Networking whether online or in person is about building relationships and underpinning that is communication.  Effective communication will help you with both types of networking.  If you remember that networking is about creating those relationships then your communication should be about making connections.

 The 5 Ps and 1 C of Networking:  Preparation, Planning, Practice, Performance, Passion and Communication
Preparation is a key part of networking.  Do some homework – find out who attends – who is in the group online. You can find out their guidelines which will give you an indication on where your communication should flow – what can and can’t be said -(I think sometimes online is a bit easier because you have those guidelines as a starting point).   Find out some information about the network group you are attending – some will let you know in advance who has booked in – others will have a website, facebook page or meetup page which will give you more information.  This will give you and idea if the members are in your niche or would have connections to your ideal customer or client.
Have a Plan in place before you attend.  Who do you want to meet, what part of your business or passion do you want to share at this particular network meeting.  Focus on one issue – do not overwhelm the meeting with trying to share all your business at once.  Be selective – what is best going to suit this particular network group.  Plan to meet at least 3 people – start small as you get more comfortable then you might want to increase that number.  I like to keep small because then I can really focus on connecting with those 3 people.  Listen – this is a vital tool.  Make it active listening – ask questions.
Practicebefore hand – make sure you can explain your business in a couple of key sentences focusing around how you solve others problems not on selling your product.   Plan and Practice your infomercial so that if you get the opportunity to speak you are ready to shine and can do coherently, competently and concisely.  
Most importantly be ready to Perform at the networking meeting.  Be ready to expand and build your relationships.  Be authentic and Passionate – people see through those who are just there to hand out business cards and push their products.  Those who take the time to make the relationship, have the coffee, listen and care will always come away with good contacts, both business and personal. 
Your Communicationfor networking should be connective communication.  You should be focused on relationship building – sharing stories and making that connection with people.
 “Great Networkers always treat people the way they would like to be treated.”  – Robyn Henderson – Global Networking Specialist
The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place” – George Bernard Shaw
“Do you just ‘arrive’ at the function and mingle – or do you attend with a plan?”  Vicki Sparks CEO ConnectWorking
 Keep these words in mind, follow the 5 Ps and 1 C of Networking and ensure that your networking is always effective, productive and rewarding.
Trish @ Trischel
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