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Friends are for networking

It was a lesson in networking for networkers.
Denise Ryan of Firestar, a consulting business that offers seminars on the subject, offered the dos and don’ts of attending a networking luncheon even as the Lincolnton/Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce members were holding just such an event Wednesday.
It’s much more than handing out business cards, said Ryan, who describes the purpose of business networking as finding the appropriate people to “have a relationship with.”
She described the mission of networking as achieving these goals: gaining information that could be of benefit to your business; finding resourceful people to help you grow; finding “support” or “cheerleaders” for you; using influence to enhance a customer base.
Some don’ts.
Don’t go to a networking event just to hand out as many business cards as possible, she said. Instead, concentrate on a few people and make sure they remember you and then follow up.
Networkers defeat their purpose when they hang out with people they already know, she said. Find out who is attending an event and create a “target market” to approach.
Ryan, who presented a three-hour seminar on the topic Thursday night at the Lincoln Campus of Gaston College, urged attention to “body language” when interacting with potential clients and made these points.
· The smile is all important for a positive connection.
· Eye contact is necessary to insure you’re getting the attention needed.
· An enthusiastic handshake (not overly firm) is helpful.. “A web and a couple of pumps.”
· Allowance of another’s personal space during conversation.. (Closer than two feet is too close).
She cautioned an audience that filled the fellowship room of First Baptist Church to not overlook their more personal “network” of family and friends.
“You have a lot more connections than you realize,” she said.

.by Al Dozier

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