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How to Excel at Networking

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How to Excel at Networking

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I talk a lot about interesting marketing ideas for good reason: standing out is critical (but we already know that). We also know networking is important, but do we know how to do it? I recently met two successful business owners who have networking down to a science.

Shalom Klein is the founder of Chicago-based Jewish B2B Networking, a company that teaches how to network, sets up events and helps facilitate business synergies.

Klein emphasizes focusing on long-term relationships, not the quick sale. He points out that the people who take the time to build their social capital are the ones who will have new business referred to them over and over.

When you’re at a networking event and you meet a potential future business partner, don’t hungrily launch into a proposition; get to know them! Ask about their interests, find out about their kids and see what drives them as a person. Who knows? You may accidentally make a friend.

Klein also stresses that it is vital for you to be able to articulate what it is you do and what it is about you that’s so great. You’re not the only one in your industry, so make a lasting impression and make sure part of it is that you’re one-of-a-kind.

Anatoly Nirshberg, founder of Glenview-based ParadigmNEXT, a company that focuses on Internet presence, SEO and social media content, knows all too well how difficult it is to network.

Nirshberg’s first tip? Learn the lingo. If you don’t know even the simplest of terms, the community will oust you as an imposter right away (it’s also not very professional to take on a client without doing any research, is it?).

Another great way to impress is to go to industry events and mingle (and use your newly learned jargon!). People take a liking to a brand if the person behind it is likeable.

There are many tricks of the trade, but these are often overlooked, so take note. And remember one last thing: a smart networker doesn’t collect business cards like they’ll be worth something one day; a smart networker makes select, important introductions that eventually turn into lasting partnerships. 

Adam Fridman is the founder of MeetAdvisors.com, a social network for entrepreneurs. MeetAdvisors allows for professionals to give free advice to those seeking help with their business ventures. Forbes has coined MeetAdvisors "Yelp for entrepreneurs." Armed with a Master of Science in Finance and experience in corporate finance and investment banking, Adam spent the past 10 years tackling a number of ventures with a focus on business development and strategy.

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