Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The ABC's of Public Speaking - N is for Networking

N is for Networking

When you are the speaker at an event you will have an above average opportunity to meet and make connections with the a variety of interesting people who are in the audience. Those who make presentations are often granted high levels of credibility, and thus will be sought out before and after the speech by people who are interested in shaking their hand and talking about the presentation.

All opportunities come from people, and you never know who you might meet that could become a valuable contact. Take advantage of your mini-celebrity status during an event to make connections with others. Always be interested in others and ask them questions about themselves, as if the whole conversation is just about you and your presentation, you will miss the chance to make a mutually beneficial connection.

Plan ahead before your presentation to maximize effective networking. Know who is going to present at the event and make plans to seek out any people whom you would like to meet. Ask the event organizer for a copy of the RSVP list a few days in advance, or arrive early and review the name tags.

Participate in the networking that takes place before the event gets started. Often the speaker uses this time to set up the PowerPoint projector or make other preparations. Arrive early enough to get equipment and props set up before people arrive and then actively socialize with the crowd before the event. In addition to quality networking opportunities, you will be able to learn interesting information about the organization and individuals that you can weave into your presentation.

Be sure that you bring plenty of business cards when you speak. You never want to run out of cards when you are shaking hands and socializing with those in attendance at your presentation. Not haveing cards will make you appear unprepared or uninterested in the people that you meet. Meeting a person one time does not make them part of your network. It takes several interaction to establish a real relationship, and thus a business card is an important tool for instigating a future follow up.

Allow plenty of time after the event to talk with people. While you may not be accustomed to being the center of attention, do not shy away from talking with those who seek you out after your presentation concludes. Some speakers create problems for themselves by scheduling other meetings too soon after a speech and thus have to leave quickly following the conclusion of their remarks. This will be viewed as rude by audience members who would like the chance to meet you. Spend as much time as necessary to allow everyone who desires shaking your hand to do so. Always be friendly and polite to everyone, as that will impact how they remember your speech.

If you do meet someone interesting, be sure to get their business card and then follow up with them in a timely manner. The biggest mistake in networking is not following up with the people you meet whom you would like to get to know better. Own the follow up and send an email or a handwritten note telling them you enjoyed meeting them at the event, and plan for a future contact.

Have A Great Day.


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