8 Tips to Help you Network with Confidence

Many people hate networking or get nervous before going to an event. You don't have to; here are some tips to get you through it with confidence.

1.     Make a list of 5 potential groups to join; consider nonprofit organizations as well as business groups.

  • Research the organizations online to see what they do, who is involved, past events, etc.

  • Don’t forget that networking doesn’t just happen at business groups, it can be very effective to join boards of nonprofits, so check out their websites to see who else is already a board member that you may want to meet. This requires a greater commitment but is often well worth it.

2.     Register for a meeting

  • If there is someone you know in the group, call and ask if they are attending.

  • Invite someone to go with you to ease any nervousness you may be feeling, but be sure to spread out once you arrive and sit with other people; you can then introduce each other to new people after the meeting that way.

3.     Make a plan

  • What’s your goal for the meeting? To walk away with at least one business card that has value, i.e., referral source; potential client; Introduce yourself to someone you have been wanting to meet; Perfecting your introduction; Get tips from the speaker, etc.

  • Practice your 30 – 60 second introduction ahead of time so that if you are asked to stand up and introduce yourself you will have more confidence; Remember to think about the problem you solve for your clients rather than what you ‘sell’ – people want help, they don’t want to be sold something.

4.     When you go

  • Show up 15 minutes early, introduce yourself to the registration team

  • You’ll also find a few others who show up early and they are often anxious to make connections as well

  • SMILE – it will immediately make you feel more confident and others are attracted to people who seem positive and approachable.

5.     Wear your own name badge

  • Have one made for your company at a local printer or online so you always have it on hand and your company is prominently featured and your name is spelled correctly

6.     Introduce yourself to others and then ask questions; listening first is a good practice

  • Ask what they do

  • Think of how you can help or connect them to someone else you know

  • Ask for their card before handing over yours; write on the back of the card where and when you met

  • Ask the team coordinating for specific people in attendance, e.g. for them to point out someone you want to meet and introduce you

  • Let people know what you might be looking for, i.e., how they can help you

7.     After the meeting

  • Enter information from each card you collected into a spreadsheet or sales software tool (CRM) including the date you met, what organization hosted the meeting, who else they are connected to, etc.

  • Follow up within 2-3 days with an email to say it was nice to meet them and provide any information you promised

  • Consider the organization; Was it a good fit for you? How else can you get involved? Who is on committees or the board that you want to meet? Should you join or just attend another meeting to get a better sense of the members?

8.     Remember that practice improves everything

  • Go to more meetings; go outside your comfort zone.

  • Reach out to people who seem new or lost; introduce them to others.

  • Be a connector!

I’ve been networking for over 30 years and there are still times when I get a little nervous attending something new by myself. When I do, I take a deep breath, smile and enter the room. I find that I always walk away with either a tip from the speaker or presentation that I can use or share with someone else or I meet someone that is a good source of business or that I can refer to someone else. It is always beneficial. 

Daily/Weekly/Monthly Networking Tips & My Magic Bullet!

Recently, a colleague asked me "What should I be doing on a daily/weekly or monthly basis to enhance my marketing efforts?" GREAT QUESTION! Of course the answer would take up pages and pages of advice, however, you have to start somewhere! So, here are a few tips to get you started. Comment below and share your own tips!

Daily/Weekly: 8:30 am

-         Monday: Reach out to one person already in your network to schedule coffee during the week. This should be someone you know fairly well and someone you feel would be comfortable discussing details about how to be better referral sources for each other. Ask them: what groups they belong to; what industry is their best source of referrals; and to talk about a successful 'case study' for a recent client. (Obviously be prepared to discuss the same for your company.)

-         Tuesday: Go through your LinkedIn contacts; reach out to 1 or 2 people to connect via coffee or lunch; this should be someone who you don’t know well (unlike the Monday contact) but want to get to know better; identify a common person that makes it a “warm call." Schedule lunch and ask questions about them. Find out how you can support them, don't ask for business unless it comes up organically.

-         Wednesday: Write a blog article for your website and LinkedIn. Think in terms of 5 tips for doing X; how you can you help others with this post? While you are at it, prepare titles for the next 3 weeks. 

-         Thursday: Link your LinkedIn blog post to Facebook to cross promote; link it through Twitter as well. How about Instagram? Can you send that article to a local newspaper for publication?

-         Friday: Look at the coming quarter to see what events or activities you can get involved in such as street fairs, nonprofit events and the like, and what you need to get ready; i.e., premium items? Business cards re-order? RSVP. Then invite someone to attend with you. Need to find local events? Access www.rocklandeventscalendar.com to find events to get involved in. Attend a new group each month to see if there is another place where you can make connections or contribute your talents. Remember that joining a committee or a board is where the magic happens. That's where people get to know you and your capabilities.


Choose a consistent date like first Friday of the month and put it on your calendar so you remember to take advantage of these opportunities.

-         Look at your website and see what can be updated; Google 'rewards' sites that are updated on a regular basis and penalizes sites with lower rankings that seem static.

-         Identify quarterly events coming up and see what you can get involved in; respond early so you don’t miss deadlines and get shut out.

-         Thank about your 3 best clients: what made them so successful? What did you do right? How can you put those techniques into new client relationships?

-         Send an email blast, use your blog posts as a basis for that email; use bullet points and drive people to your LinkedIn profile or website for more information.

-         Research your competition and see what they are doing. Check their websites; their LinkedIn profiles and their FB and Twitter feeds; what are they doing that you’re not? What can you learn? What can you do to be proactive so you are ahead of the curve?

-         Consider joining the board of an organization; this is where real connections start and grow and if I had to identify one 'magic bullet' for networking it would be this. I believe immersing yourself into an organization is one of the most powerful ways to meet people, demonstrate your talents, and gain new business. Not to mention you will be giving back in one way or another.

Looking for Some Unique Locally Sourced Gift Ideas? Try these and you might even qualify for an end of year tax deduction

Every year it’s the same thing, you search for just the right gift for each person on your list, often coming up short or settling for something that you know will be re-gifted. Here’s a few unique gift ideas that will also help local organizations and some even provide last-minute tax deductions.

A Gift that Will Inspire for Years to Come
Catholic Charities Community Services of Rockland is constructing a meditation garden at their location in Haverstraw which will be unveiled on Earth Day, April 22, 2017. The garden is meant to also provide inspiration to those who find themselves at Catholic Charities in need of food or shelter regardless of their faith. You can purchase a brick in someone’s honor and have it engraved with a quote that inspires you. Bricks are $100 for a 4 x 4 or $175 for an 8 x 8. Your message of inspiration will have a permanent place and you’ll be helping people in need for years to come. Find out more at this link https://www.bricksrus.com/order/cccsr/ or call Catholic Charities Community Services of Rockland at 845-942-5791. More information about their services is available at www.ccsrockland.org

Give the Gift of Mobility
BRiDGES is a not-for-profit organization that helps people with disabilities in Rockland lead more independent lives. They have raised 90% of the $100,000 needed to purchase two wheelchair accessible vans that will provide a much-needed transportation option to more people in Rockland. Your gift can be made in honor of someone and will help thousands of people have more freedom in 2017. Donate here https://www.razoo.com/us/story/Bridges-Vans or by mail to: BRiDGES, 873 Route 45, Suite 108, New City, NY 10956. Questions can be directed to Lorraine Greenwell lgreenwell@bridgesrc.org.

Sponsor a Woman Entrepreneur
Do you know a woman starting her own business or looking for more networking opportunities? Why not give her an annual membership in the Rockland Business Women’s Network. While you may not have heard of it, the organization will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2018. Membership is $175 per year. If that’s too steep, why not offer to pay for her to attend one of their luncheons? More information can be found at www.rbwn.org. The group also presents scholarships each year to area high school students and donations can be made directly to their scholarship fund.

Cookies for a Cause
Baking Memories 4 Kids is a Rockland based 501c3 started by cancer survivor Frank Squeo who wanted to find a way to help children with cancer and their families. What better way to help than to bake and sell chocolate chip cookies? But these aren't just any chocolate chip cookies, they are the best cookies you will ever eat; they are moist and delicious and tax deductible! What better way to celebrate the holidays than to give a locally produced gift of great tasting cookies and help children at the same time? In one weekend in December they baked 70,000 cookies all through volunteer efforts and Frank takes no salary for his efforts. Get them for your family, your clients or yourself this holiday and all year long. To order visit www.bakingmemories4kids.com

Cash on the Town
Cash on The Town Gift Certificates from the Pearl River Chamber of Commerce are available in $10, $15 or $25 denominations and can be purchased on the Pearl River Chamber of Commerce website at www.pearlriverny.org They can be used like cash in any Pearl River shop, restaurant or business that displays the Cash on The Town logo. They are a great way to support local businesses and give the recipient a choice of where to shop or dine.

Give a Piece of History
Did you know that you can purchase a membership in the Rockland Historical Society for as little as $100 and support their efforts to maintain and preserve the history of Rockland County? The Historical Society sponsors educational programs and publications and promotes the appreciation of history and the cultural heritage of the people of Rockland. They also have a host of unique and inexpensive publications available on their website that all talk about life in Rockland; a great gift for adults or children. More information can be found at www.rocklandhistory.org/

Down on the Farm
Rockland Farm Alliance is dedicated to preserving Rockland County’s remaining farmland. Their goal is to bring the community closer to the earth by localizing sustainable food production, building agricultural education programs and reconnecting residents to real food from the soil up. Why not give a membership to someone who shares these values? Membership levels, which start at $100, include free access to monthly workshops, invitation to a special supporting members dinner event, exclusive rates on farm tours and use of learning facilities, and larger memberships include thank you gift bags, mentions on the website’s Partner Page, VIP access to events, window decals, a feature article on a business in one edition of the RFA’s monthly publication to over 4,000 readers and an invitation to exclusive Executive Member lunch with local political influencers. More information can be found at http://www.rocklandfarm.org/

There are plenty of interesting gift options that have a local connection. If none of these spark your interest, do a Google search, you are sure to find plenty more! Follow my blog for more ideas at http://www.gmgpr.com/gmgpr-blog/ or on twitter at @gmgpr.

Risa B. Hoag is the founder and president of GMG Public Relations celebrating 25 years of providing award-winning creativity to clients in the NY area. The firm provides traditional public relations and marketing support as well as social media services. Risa is the co-founder and President of the Nanuet Chamber of Commerce, VP of Marketing for Rockland Business Women’s Network and creator and show host of The Bigger Picture radio show. For more information call 845-627-3000