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"How 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:

First: 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).

Second: 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 business.

Third: 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 people.

Fourth: 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.

Fifth: 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.

Sixth: 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 job.

Seventh: 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.)

Eight: 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.

Ninth: 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.

Tenth: 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 "mkross@bdo.com" 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.

 

 

 


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