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Agrimarketing : Career Supplement USA
25 have a job, design a creative business card that has just your name, cell number, and an e-mail address that you know you will have for life. (Use an e-mail like firstname.lastname@ username.com, not an e-mail like email@example.com or little firstname.lastname@example.org.) Keep It Short and Sweet. When you're attending an event where networking is possible, keep the conversation brief or people will lose interest. Have a sixty second nutshell description of yourself and your goals ready to go. (Make it short enough to deliver during an elevator ride!) Your "elevator speech" should tell people everything they need to know about you and open the door for further questions. Keep them intrigued and wanting more without giving them time to get bored or distracted. There is a fine line between not enough and too much so practice, practice, practice! Did You Hear What I Said? Listen! Keep in mind that your goal, when trying to build a network, is to gain and exchange information. Give oth- ers the chance to speak and even boast about themselves. You can solicit the information you want by talking and directing the conversation, but then take the time and effort to truly listen so you remember when it really counts. If You Can't Say Something Nice ... There is no need to express every last thought in your head. Stay away from badmouthing anyone when in a networking situation. It really is a small world, and you never know how the person you are talking to might be connected. You're Not Here For The Party. Always remember why you came to the event in the first place: to network. The purpose of a networking event is to help you advance professionally. Yes, it is a social event, but a professional one. You want to be remembered as capable, competent and polished, not as the girl or guy who was passed out on the table in the back or the idiot who was rocking it on the dance floor with only half their clothes on. Be responsible, and above all, never have too much to drink. Quality, not Quantity. It doesn't matter if you talk to every single person in the room. If you don't have a meaningful, memorable conversa- tion with anyone: you have failed. Not only that, but if you are rushing around the room trying to meet as many people as possible, chances are good you will seem rude as your eyes dart from side to side while scanning the room, identifying the next person to pounce upon. It is important to maintain eye contact with the person you are speaking with, and stay focused on what they are saying. A strong network is based on relationships, not acquaintances. Take A Note. Once the event is over, you should take all those business cards that you skillfully extracted and write a few notes on the back of each one. Jot down who the person was, what they do, what you talked about and even how they might be able to help you in the future. Once you get home, file them awayinaboxor folder where you can find them when you need them. Work on Your Follow Through. If you exchange infor- mation with some- one, at a networking event or anywhere else, and you have the intention of getting together at a later date, be sure to follow up with them. While the conversation and meeting is still fresh in your mind, send a note asking when a good time to get together would be. Try to do this within one week of the event; they are much more likely to remember you that way. Be a Friend. As you meet new people, or come into contact with clients and associates, ask them how they are doing; take a genuine and sincere interest in their lives. You are more likely to have a lasting relationship with someone if you get past the surface stuff and know them as a friend. At the same time, you should always be yourself; never "pretend" to be their friend. If a friendship is not developing naturally, don't force it. Stay In Touch. A large part of networking is maintaining the con- tacts you already have. In the hustle and bustle to get new contacts, don't forget about keeping the contacts you already have up to date with your life. Holiday cards, personal newsletters and social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn are all excellent ways to keep in touch with friends from long ago. These are just a few tips to help make your construction of a great network easier. There are hundreds of ways to do it, and even more ways to maintain it; but at the end of the day, networking is still relationship building, and building good rela- tionships takes time. Be patient, put your best foot forward, nurture your network, and eventually, you will "know" one of those people who will help your dreams come true. Look for opportunities to network at events you attend. Oftentimes, networking happens not during the scheduled times of a conference, but rather those times before and after the conference or during breaks. Participating in student clubs is one of the best ways to network with fellow peers, but also with industry representatives through company visits, meeting speakers, competitions and tradeshows.