We’ve done annual member surveys and the opportunity to network comes in as number 1 or 2 each time. Do you make the most of your time at events? Don’t squander the chance to make a new connection. Don’t just hang with those you know.

Even the seasoned business person can use a refresher.

First, make sure you have your “elevator pitch.” That’s not really a pitch but a 20-30 second explanation of your business. Your name, the name of your business and the type of business you’d most like people to remember. “Hi, I’m Bill Smith with The Great Wire Company. We work with customers in the building sector and have hundreds of products, but our focus is to grow our custom coil business this year.”

Then, ask open ended questions about the person you’ve approached. Listen to them. Look at their face. Stay focused and engage them on something they offer in their response. In a noisy atmosphere like a bar or large gathering, it’s easy to be distracted. Have you ever asked someone a question then realized you didn’t listen to their answer? We’ve all done it.

Finally, whether you feel there can be a business connection or not, exchange business cards. You’ve come with plenty, right? As soon as you are able, jot down a subject you discussed with them on the back of the card. Then, follow up with an email the next day dropping in that subject. Keep all cards exchanged for one year in a special place. This gives you a chance to refer someone to yet another new contact making friends all along the way. People remember that favor and may do the same for you.

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