A group of people network at an event.

10 Things to Know About: Networking

Liz Sutton considers relationships the foundation of almost all successful businesses and knows well-done networking is the effective, efficient way to build them.

The owner of Alabama World ravel and Sutton & Associates has been following her own advice on this topic for decades, and it’s working; AWT is celebrating 52 years in 2023. Read on for her top 10 networking “need to knows.”

1. Know Networking Works.

Almost all business today is really about relationships. People like to do business with people they know and like. Networking is the way to create relationships. Networking events are a quick way to meet a lot of people, and you have a common bond right away: You’re all at the same event, so you’re all probably looking to make connections.

2. Get Your Name Noticed.

Wear a name tag. I always wear one on my right side, so when I go to shake hands, your eye naturally goes across my body where you’ll see it. But always introduce yourself too. And don’t forget to give out your business cards.

3. Practice Makes Perfect.

Meeting new people makes some uncomfortable. I was nervous when I was beginning, so I would practice introducing myself in front of a mirror. My name can be hard to say clearly; the z and s run together.

4. Meet and Repeat. 

Even if I’ve met someone before, and I remember them, I always reintroduce myself to make them comfortable.

5. Always Ask.

If someone has a name that’s unique, sometimes I ask for the spelling, but I make it conversational. I compliment the name or comment on it in some way.

6. Be Nice. 

Other than my name tag, the most important thing I wear is a smile. You want to be approachable. You don’t want your face tight or hands or arms crossed in front of you. Just be aware of what your body language is saying.

7. Put Others at Ease. 

I look for people standing alone. I’ll do my introduction and try to draw them out. I often try to connect them with others too. Now I am not just networking for me, but I’m getting some energy going in the room. If you want to take the stress out of networking, flip your mindset to, “How can I help someone else?”

8. Go Beyond Intros. 

Ask questions to learn more than a name. I always exchange cards, and when we do, I might comment on the logo. I’ll ask more about what they do, and I sometimes make notes right on their card. That shows them I’m interested. I might also ask, “Who is your ideal customer?” and then introduce them to someone who fits. Now, I’ve reinforced my connection with both people.

9. Reach Out. 

Before the pandemic, I always shook hands. I still do if they are comfortable. I think when you touch, there is an energy exchange, and it is more personal.

10. Take Notes. 

You hope you meet a lot of new people, but for those introductions to pay off, you have to remember them, and you want to recall not just their name, but the other information you learned. I always carry paper and a pen for notes. And when people tell me their name, I immediately say it back. That helps me remember, too.