Saturday, July 7, 2007

On Writing: Networking In Action

Day Four of my series of posts on Networking. I hope some of you’re finding some of these tips useful. For more extensive views on the subject, I highly recommend “Power Networking – 55 Secrets for Personal & Professional Success”, by Donna Fisher and Sandy Vilas.

Today I’ll highlight a few active networking tips. I’ll use Fisher and Vilas’s bullet points and elaborate from my own perspective.

Networking in Action:

* Dress to Impress
I attended my first Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in 1994. I attended alone and I didn’t know a soul. I knew that the convention was for booklovers, therefore a lot of readers would be there and probably dressed more casually. But I was there for the writing workshops. My goal: to someday be published. I was there for business so I dressed accordingly.

The very first night, at the welcome reception, a published author and her husband came over to me (I was drinking a soda and doing an incredible impression of a wallflower) and engaged me in conversation. I was thrilled! At one point, the husband glanced at my nametag and saw that I was an ‘aspiring writer’. He said, “Oh. We came over to speak to you because you looked like somebody.” Meaning somebody they should get to know… like an editor or an agent. Not something I would have said, folks, however they were very nice and instead of dwelling on that odd comment, I reflected on the fact that they’d cited my attire. I looked like an industry professional.

Lesson learned? If you want to be perceived as a professional, be sure to portray professionalism through your clothes, speech, and mannerisms.

Please note that this doesn’t mean I wear conventional suits. I’m not a conventional kind of gal. I wear funky suits and dresses with stylish but comfortable shoes. Professional yet fitting my personal style. Whether you're conventional or quirky, just strive to make a statement that shouts, "I'm somebody you want to know!"

* Make a Strong First Impression

Introduce yourself in a concise way. Who you are. What you do. A strong handshake shows confidence.

Long ago my husband taught me the importance of a firm handshake. Just because you’re a woman that doesn’t mean you should shake like a lightweight. He calls it the limp-fish handshake.

In my previous life, I was a longtime professional performer. One day, following an audition at an unnamed casino, my agent introduced me to the VP of Marketing. A young woman. I expected a firm handshake. A VP for gosh sake. I got the limp-fish. My first thought was that she lacked confidence. She was also uncomfortable making eye contact. Neither of these things made for a strong first impression.

* Memorize Names and Faces
Listen when they say their name, glance at their nametag, use their name in conversation. People are flattered if you remember them the next time you see them. In turn, if it seems someone does not recognize you, spare them any awkwardness by reintroducing yourself.

I confess this is a huge problem for me. I have a horrible memory. It can be mortifying. Especially if I’ve had a conversation with this person at a previous conference. I should know their name. I should remember specifically what we spoke of. But often it’s a blur. Not because they’re not memorable, but because something doesn’t fire right with my memory skills. It’s forever something I’m trying to improve upon.

* Be Gracious and Courteous
Hold a door or an elevator for someone. Ask how you can assist the host/hostess. RSVP promptly to invitations. Send a thank you note after you attend a meeting or special event. In other words, be considerate.

* Give out Business Cards Appropriately
Passing out your business cards randomly is not an effective use of your cards. An exchange of cards should happen following a discussion or to provide an individual with requested contact info. Later you can also jot notes on the back of the card to reminding you who this person is or what he said. Especially helpful for someone like me, someone with a faulty memory.

* Acknowledge Contacts – Follow Up
If someone provides you with their contact information, try to follow up with a card or email. This helps to establish a relationship. If someone judges your work in a contest, follow up with a note. If an agent or editor rejects your work, follow up with a thank you note. Even if they do not acknowledge your ‘thank you’ you just put your name in their mind again and in a positive way.

Tommorrow: Networking in Your Comfort Zone

Quote for the Day:

“The power of networking comes from people and the development of strong solid relationships.” -- Donna Fisher and Sandy Vilas, authors of Power Networking

8 comments:

flchen1 said...

Beth, I just wanted to say that you've been posting some great tips, although I've been staying out of the networking loop lately. (Although I imagine that good networking can happen any time, whether you're actively working on it or not!) Thanks!!

Beth Ciotta said...

You're welcome, flchen1. And I think you're right. Good networking can happen anytime. The best happens naturally. :-)

barb said...

Beth,

What you wrote is very helpful. I don't think it matters what field you are in, what you said hits the bullseye! How did you get to be so smart? Oh yeah, it's genetic. On second thought...maybe not.

Beth Ciotta said...

Barb, you're absolutely right. It doesn't matter what field you are in. The book I recommended by Fisher and Vilas actually targets the corporate world, but I saw where their insight and tips applied to achieving goals in any profession. Amazingly, much of it just boils down to good manners.
Luckily Mom imstilled those in you and I. :-)

Jill James said...

I love the handshake story. In business school it was one of the first things they taught us. A handshake says so much about a person.

Beth Ciotta said...

Jill, I had no idea 'the handsake' was addressed in business school, but it makes perfect sense!

Melissa Lopez said...

Oh mercy...Beth! I don't know a thing about stylish cloths. I need someone to pick my cloths out!

Eye contact I'm not very good with at all. See as a auditory learner I'm a automatic listener. I memorize voices. At least, the firm hand shake I can do ;)

I love Mary's quote in the previous lesson. "We remember the one's we know," suits name recognition, too.
~Mel

Anonymous said...

Hi Sandy,

I looked for the authors of Power Networking on the Web and couldn't find a web site for them - OK, I didn't look for a long time, because I thought I might ask you.

Where are they now - do they publish a blog?

Any leads?

Thanks,

Michael Benidt & Sheryl Kay
Golden Compass, Inc.
13842 Legend Way UNIT 102
Broomfield, CO 80020
(303) 517-3584
www.goldencompass.com
www.hiddenbusinesstreasures.com (blog)
www.hiddenspeakertreasures.com (blog)