to Network Effectively
at a Business Reception"
By Mike Kross
Most of us attend business receptions or events. These receptions
can one of the most effective and simplest ways of meeting people
and promoting yourself and your business. I have attended hundreds,
both good and bad. Ultimately, whether an event was good or bad
depended on me and a few simple rules:
Know yourself. You cannot be all things to all people. Think about
what you do and what you don't do. Be prepared to talk in a straightforward
way, so that people can quickly get to know YOU (most importantly)
or your business. Above all be HONEST, but not self effacing. If
your business is the best thing since sliced bread (or you went
to Harvard) don't be overly modest or embarrassed about it (but
don't expect people to be impressed either).
Know the event. If you are interested in the topic, or you think
that the event will be fun, great, you WILL be a success. If you
are there only because your boss, partner or friend told you to
go, make the best of it. Always remember that you are there to learn
about others and to give others the opportunity to learn about YOU.
Don't waste your time at events which don't matter to you or your
Be prepared. Learn about the attendees. The organizers want the
event to be a success and will be happy to share who is attending.
If you can identify key people to meet, you will be one step ahead.
When you arrive at the event, be aggressive about meeting these
Appreciate others and don't be a huckster. The other attendees are
also there to meet people. Expect some of them to be different from
you and accept that. Listen, appreciate them and the people they
know. Overlook their social mistakes and learn from them. They WILL
remember your interest and be interested in you. Don't be shy, but
have respect for others and yourself by using peoples' time in a
constructive way. We have all been to events where certain people
trapped others or talked at length in a self promoting way. Don't
be one of those people. If you are, everyone WILL remember you,
but not in a positive way.
Avoid time traps. Business events are full of time traps. Avoid
them if possible, but accept being trapped if there is no escape.
Going with a group from your company makes it more difficult for
others to meet YOU. Teaming up a friend or another attendee can
work well. People are reassured if someone knows you and accepts
you. The dinner table is often one of the less effective ways of
meeting people, so use your time before the diner effectively. Try
to at least say hello to everyone at your table. Listen and talk.
Don't be shy at sitting at the speaker's table if you are on your
own and a seat is available. Some of your time will be wasted. An
event is not a test. You can go again.
Have the proper expectations. Rome wasn't built in a day. Most people
will need to meet you several times before they will trust you enough
to share their business concerns. If people ask for your card or
phone number, always ask for theirs. Most people are just being
polite. Don't expect them to follow up or to call you. That is your
Have fun. Business events and receptions are fun. Don't get drunk
or stand by the bar or the food, but expect to meet much more interesting
people than the people you meet at the office. These people can
be truly GREAT and may REALLY HELP YOU. They could save your job,
your marriage and your dreams. Soon you may be organizing and sponsoring
events for them. They could change your life. (A secret: This is
the real reason to attend these events.)
Meet the sponsors and the speakers. These people want the event
to be a success and would appreciate meeting you. Often this can
best be done at the end of the event. Talk to them in an HONEST
and CONSTRUCTIVE way. Remember that they have spent their time and/or
money to meet others and you. Meet them, but appreciate what they
have done for you.
Follow up. We live in an age of computers. Use them. Don't drop
cards into a box. Log them into your computer data base and note
how you met someone. If you meet her later or she calls you, she
will be impressed you remember. Follow up is your job. Have lunch
with potential contacts or fun people (Why not?). Be direct and
straight forward, but don't be overly aggressive or expect instant
results. If you can or can't help, say so and offer suggestions.
They will appreciate your honesty. Don't worry if things don't go
right the first time. People WILL forgive you. Rome wasn't built
in a day.
Don't forget the above rules. Oops!! I already have, since I forgot
to tell you: My name is Mike Kross. I provide tax consulting services
to businesses as a partner at BDO Seidman, LLP, an international
accounting firm, in San Francisco and am trained as an attorney.
I was formerly a partner on corporate, tax and international law
at Graham and James, LLP. I love anything to do with Asia, especially
China, and am organizing the business section of the Mayor of San
Francisco's trip to Shanghai, September 22-29, 1998. I will be providing
online coverage for AsianConnections of this historic trade and
business mission. Stay Tuned! If you want to contact me, you can
e-mail me at "firstname.lastname@example.org" or call me at 415-397-7900
ex 229. By the way, I did graduate from Harvard, but business receptions
have changed my life much more (for the better, honestly). They
can change yours. Have fun.