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The Business Networking System Used By Business Networking Guru Donna Messer

By Donna Messer

1. Know your audience.

Weeks before the event, Messer has asked for a list of attendees. "That way I can do a little research on people who will be there. I try to know as much as I can about the crowd before I get there.” It's important that I have the ability to build a rapport with them,” says Messer.

2. Be visible and travel light.

Messer wears a tasteful jacket with pockets. Her funky glasses perched on the top of her head, complete the picture. She pulls a small suitcase, which carries everything she will need for the day. Including plenty of business cards! Her jacket with two pockets is crucial, the right one for her business cards the left for those she collects. No fumbling. No giving out someone else's card by mistake.

3. Circulate

She moves through the throng of people confidently, smiling. Her stride is brisk, yet casual. She knows where she is going. Her jacket is open and her body language says: “I'm approachable.”

4. Start fresh.

Messer's first stop is the buffet— not because she's hungry. “People tend to be very accessible around the food. Talking and eating go together. It's a great way to get started at an event,” she says, carrying her coffee in her left hand so she can shake with her right.

5. Who's who.

Messer circles the large room, quickly scanning name tags. “Don't read name tags while talking to people. Always maintain eye contact. Sideways glances make you look unapproachable.”

6. Approach VIPs first.

Messer always introduces herself to other speakers. It's common courtesy and a great source of additional referrals. “Keynote speakers love to talk and can be great contacts, but after they give their speeches they're always swamped.”

7. One, two or three.

The room is crowded, so Messer looks for people who are on their own. An individual contact is one-on-one and makes the most effective business networking. Smile as you approach. “Be careful if you approach two people, she warns. They may be in conversation, not just chatting, and they won't welcome a third party.” Groups of three or more, are easy to integrate, stand quietly until there is a lull in the conversation, then introduce yourself with a few well chosen words and a comment on the topic being discussed.

8. Infomercial

Tell people why you are there. For example, this is what she would say. “Hi. I'm one of the speakers. I wrote Effective Networking Strategies, the book you received with your registration package. We train people how to build their businesses and their careers. My name is Donna Messer.” She says her name at the end so he's more likely to remember it. Then asks the question. “How can I help you?”

9. Handshakes

When meeting others, she's the first to extend her hand. “It's an old protocol, a sign that you're eager to interact. Practice your handshake, it says a great deal about you, make sure it's firm and dry.”

10. Get to know them

While talking with strangers, Messer asks open-ended questions to determine quickly how to maximize her opportunity. “The first meeting is about them, and I try to find a common denominator between us.”

11. Card exchange

Messer asks for a business card before she offers her own. “It's less presumptuous.” She makes note of any follow up on the back of the card. The cards go into her left pocket.

12. Who do you know?

After moving through the room, she spots someone she would really like to know. He's alone drinking coffee, but rather than approach him on her own, she enlists a colleague who knows him to make the introduction. “A third party intro is like an endorsement, and the next time we meet, that will be remembered.”

13. Win/win

The new contact mentions that he's looking to get in touch with a specific person whom Messer happens to know. She offers to make an introduction. “Always try to be a connector, the person who brings people together,” she says. This not only makes Messer looked tapped in but may also make the person want to return the favour.

14. We came, we met, we will meet again.

Prior to her presentation, Messer has talked with at least a dozen new contacts. She makes her presentation, and gathers a huge list of additional contacts from her audience. She leaves with plans to reconnect with everyone within the next week. “Remember, you're not there to close deals or get a job. You're there to get the right to follow up with a phone call, an email or a meeting. Maximize each opportunity, it makes the whole day worthwhile. ”

Donna Messer is a relationship expert, an inspiring international speaker, trainer and coach. The author of the best seller "The Art of Effective Networking Strategies," with a business network of over 10,000 in her database that she willing shares. Donna has designed an interactive workshop for building rapport. She shows participants how to find the common denominators that make building rapport simple. For a keynote or a workshop Donna can be reached at

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