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Monthly tips to improve the business and practice of members of The Society for the Advancement of Consulting, LLC - Issue #97: October, 2011

Here are some suggestions for standing out in a crowd while trying to network and forge relationships with buyers:
  1. Don't hold a drink in your hand. Focus on others without distraction or the awkwardness of a possible spill. Turn down food you're offered. You're not at the event for a culinary experience.

  2. Do not bring “handouts.” Don't bring copies of your book, or articles, or souvenir tee-shirts! You'll look like a huckster in front of a carnival booth.

  3. Don't interrupt the people you're trying to meet. Let them finish their thoughts, but do use non-verbal behavior (nodding your head, smiling) to indicate you are listening and agree.

  4. Ask a question about the point discussed. Don't try to “one-up” or demonstrate you're the second smartest person in the group. Ask an intelligent question that also has some relevance to what you do. (Example: “When you bought the new division, how did you anticipate and adjust for the cultural disparities?”)

  5. Find the target of your networking alone when possible, to re-connect and set up a time to meet in the near future. Accomplish this using point #6 below.

  6. Determine what kind of value you can offer the individual while listening and asking questions, and taking part in any small group discussions. That will enable you to offer something significant when you are able to find the buyer alone.

  7. Be pragmatic. In a room of 100 people, there may be 15 of relevance for you, and meeting 5 may constitute a great evening or event. Don't try to “work the room,” a phrase I loathe.

  8. If you're there with a colleague, help each other out by separating. Your colleague should say to one of your targets, “There's a woman here by the name of Claire Simmons whom you really have to meet. She's working in this area and has a huge body of work relevant to it.” You reciprocate with your friend's targets. (It makes little sense for you both to pursue the same targets.)

  9. Google. Find out something personal about the people whom you most want to meet—they won an amateur golf tournament, just returned from Italy, own horses, once worked where you grew up, and so forth.

  10. Use a business card that is low key and professional, to provide your contact information, and obtain their card, indicating who will call whom and when. Never leave it to “give me a call” or “stay in touch.” And any card that plays music, is promotional, has your photo, or lights up is, trust me, over the top.
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