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Effective Networking for Small-Business Owners

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By Virginia Bridges

—Do not talk about your company unless you are asked. The goal is to get people to talk about themselves. After five to seven minutes, shake hands with the person to end the conversation. Ask for their business card only if you are interested in future conversation.

—If there is assigned seating, you might be sitting next to people you don’t know. This gives you the opportunity to continue networking during the luncheon. Be sure to speak to the people on both sides of you. Don’t just focus on one person.

—If there is a struggle for conversation, start by asking people about themselves. Ideally, you should be talking 20 percent of the time and listening 80 percent of the time.

—After the luncheon, reach out to your new contacts and offer to take them to lunch or coffee. Mention some of the personal points you remember from your previous conversation.

©2013 The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)
Distributed by MCT Information Services

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