Do you attend networking events in the real world? I mean, do you go to places where people are standing around, all hoping to SCORE BIG at the event by picking up a bunch of new clients/customers from those who are also hoping for that?

Do you dutifully pack a valise/briefcase/ pockets with handouts of all sorts, including your business cards?

Do you stalk others, one hand out in welcome, with your business card ready in the other hand?

How is it working for you?

I learned some secrets to great networking years ago from those who were far more advanced in this than I was, and over the years, I have found they work well.

First secret. Second secret.

Here’s #3, which will probably make you think I’m crazy if you don’t already think that from my first two secrets.

And I am.

Crazy like a fox.

#3: Leave your business cards (and those imprinted promotional products) at home. Seriously. Leave at least 98% of your cards at home. Why? Well if you take all those cards, you’ll be focused on getting rid of them, and perhaps not having any meaningful conversations with anyone. And your card will likely end up where so many others go to die . . . in someone else’s wastebasket.

Maybe take one or two to enter a contest or raffle – if there is one. But otherwise? No. Save your pocket space for others’ cards.

I learned to collect cards, talk to others about their business, and focus on helping others make great connections. Those simple acts make us stand out – for all the right reasons – from most of the others at any event. And of course, we make an even stronger impression when we follow up with an email that has our contact info in our signature.

You do and yours does, right?

Taking imprinted promotional products is the same thing, only worse.  Why? Because we may look desperate. We have a bag of things to give out, and it’s obvious to many that it’s the sole reason we’re there.

Not to have any meaningful conversations … not to find out more about us …. not even to find out how they can help us. Those with those promotional products are often the people we deliberately avoid.

I mean, how many pens or magnets do we really need?

True networking, in the words of BNI’s founder, Dr. Ivan Misner, is so simple:

It’s all about farming, not hunting. Plant the seeds, nurture the crops, and you’ll reap the rewards.

What lessons have you learned about successful networking that would help others?


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