Since I am by no means an expert on this subject, I am sharing my thoughts based on my personal experiences with networking groups, good and maybe not so good.
Being the new Guy joining an established business networking group should be treated as a positive challenge with getting comfortable adapting to presenting yourself in front of strangers. Although it is important to be a good listener, a first encounter will pretty much force you to let everyone present know a little bit about you so you should be prepared to make a good first impression.
Here are 10 easy tips to get you started:
- Bring lots of business cards.
- Be engaged and if possible ask for their card before offering yours.
- Have a 20 to 30 second “elevator speech” ready to give. This will normally cushion your start with offering them even more information about your business and yourself.
- Get a list of member’s names and be sure to use them at every opportunity.
- If you are worried about fitting in dress Business casual to start. Over dressing can send just as poor a message as looking below the expected standard.
- Be yourself and don’t sweat it! Time has a way of letting things work out.
- Be sensitive to your share of the time so as not to take time away from other attendees.
- Once the meeting is over, spend a few minutes to have one or two short conversations. Avoid leaving too quickly and also try not to be the last person to leave.
- If you receive anything that you are thankful for, be sure to send a thank you email or text before the next day.
- Don’t forget to smile!
A local chapter of toastmasters or almost any Dale Carnegie course is an excellent way to prepare yourself for public speaking. Practice with family or friends to start.