How to make your networking pay off

networkingBy Lisbeth Calandrino—Networking—an essential tool in business and life—can be fun for some and yet a cause for dread for others. I get it—meeting new people can be a little intimidating, particularly if you’re worrying if people like you, how you speak, what you’re wearing, etc. There’s no reason to fear it, though. At its core, networking is about getting to know people.

I belonged to a networking group that met every week. The members were all businesspeople wondering who would give them the most business. There were always new members and, like everyone else, I was trying to figure out how I could get to know them and do business with them. I decided the best thing I could do was to become the “door greeter” for every meeting and make others feel comfortable. It was like having a party with people I never had with. I wanted them to enjoy themselves and have a good time, so I stopped focusing on myself and concentrated on what my guests needed. Instead of worrying about what everyone thought and how I looked, I gave all my attention to everyone situated around me.

So, what’s the best way to make networking “work” for you? Here are six ideas to make your networking efforts pay off.

  1. When you meet new people, forget what you need and how you feel. Decide it’s time to be gracious and caring and focus on the person you’re speaking to. Think about a compliment you can offer, about what they’re wearing, their interesting name or something they’ve said. Keep them talking about themselves and focus on what they need. If you do this, people will think you’re so interesting. Never forget, everyone is special in their own way, your job is to discover their uniqueness.
  2. Figure out how this person can get something from the rest of the group. Who is his best connection and introduce them. By doing this, you are ensuring that you are important to the group members. It’s like you’re the person who gets things done.
  3. Ask how you can help. When you ask this, you become the center of influence. People will remember that you helped them get new business.
  4. Follow through with everyone you’ve met. Don’t worry about whether you’re going to get business, pay attention to who you’ve connected with and how you can make that grow.
  5. Network everywhere you can—at the gym, in your Pilates class, etc. Collect business cards and reach out. Don’t worry about who can get your business; think about who can get you connected.
  6. Utilize tips from the pros. There is a great podcast I listen to called “The Jordan Harbinger Show.” He is a high-energy, ex-Wall Street lawyer who has the most incredible guests on his program—many of whom are famous. He talks about how he networks to find these people and has a free six-minute networking class that you can take. I highly recommend taking the class. Here’s the link for more information (

At one time or another, everyone feels uncomfortable in situations where you don’t know anyone. My experience has been if you make people feel good, they won’t forget you. More importantly, if they have the opportunity, they will probably refer you to someone they know. At the end of the day, networking is all about putting positivity out there and reaping the rewards.

Lisbeth Calandrino has been promoting retail strategies for the last 20 years. To have her speak at your business or to schedule a consultation, contact her at

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