Networking 101

The entrepreneurial path is not always easy for newcomers. Often, it’s the first time you’re actually representing yourself – and that’s a whole different ball game than having the political clout of a major corporation behind you.

It can be lonely out there, especially for those of us who are a bit shyer than we’d like to admit. Not all women entrepreneurs are naturally outgoing and aggressive.

What’s the solution? Take a deep breath – and Network, Network, Network! Some might think that networking "style" is an elusive and inborn quality. Not so! Networking can be learned. And the lessons are important, because it is true that you only get one chance to make a first impression.

Quick tips

Here are some quick tips for making a great first impression during networking events:

Work the room

A non-threatening way to move around is to introduce folks to each other. Once you’ve learned something about a person, introduce her to a third party whom you know a little better, and who has similar interests or experiences.

Talk business later

There is an etiquette to networking events that too often is forgotten in our zest to sell our services. Would you ask a doctor to diagnose your symptoms at a party? Or an attorney to give her opinion about your pending law suit? A professional states what she does and then sets a date for a proper professional setting to conduct the actual "sale."


Another key to effective conversation is not to say too much. Listen more than you talk. Ask leading questions and don't talk for more than 30 seconds at a time.

There's a good reason for the 30-second rule. Television commercials are usually 15 to 30 seconds long (depending on the client's budget!), and the average camera shot in a sitcom is 4.5 seconds. Anything longer than 30 seconds tends to be boring!

Make eye contact

In Western cultures, people who hold direct eye contact for less than nine seconds when introduced may be thought lower on the professional echelon, while those who hold eye contact for up to 14 seconds are more likely to be considered executives.

Assess the cultural landscape of the event and make culturally acceptable eye contact with others.

Pay attention to names

There are a variety of tricks to remembering the names of persons who are quickly introduced during networking events. Some experts recommend associating the person's name with bigger-than-life things, and/or repeating the first and last name immediately after being introduced.

I generally ask for a business card and immediately after the event jot down some personal details about the individual. That way my follow-up notes, emails or phone calls are more than just "nice to meet you’s," they always have substance.

Beat shyness

A great way to overcome shyness is to pretend YOU are the event hostess. Try to make others feel at ease by walking over and welcoming them to the event.

Be sincere!

Nothing is more effective than leaving the impression that you are genuinely interested in the people around you. If what you say comes from the heart, not just the mouth - that's effective communication -- and real networking STYLE!

Copyright ©2008 Marion E. Gold. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission for use only for online view on No other use permitted without the written and express permission of Marion E. Gold.
Here are more links related to Marion: her personal story, a tribute to her, Amazing Women Writers, Stay Psyched AFTER Success , Brittany Publications Ltd, Moonbeams, Lilacs and Roses.

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