Beyond the Build

Continuing Education

Networking 101, For Conventions and Beyond

I’m going to a national convention next week with 30,000 of my closest friends. While preparing, I started thinking about whether I’m selling upstream or working downstream. Whether at a convention or in regular conversation, these are a few things I’ve learned over the years:

Make Eye Contact. There is no substitute for this gold standard. Sincerity or lack of will show through either way.

Go to smart phone rehab. Whether I’m on the bus, in the taxi line or getting coffee, I try to make a conscience effort not to stay on the phone. I’ve never established a good relationship on the iPhone.

Be humble. No one hits home runs all the time. Modesty is a virtue, and it makes one more real.

Find Commonality. I have found if you can find something in common, it builds the relationship more quickly, and people will more readily remember the contact.

Care. Remember the details of one’s family and ask about them in a follow up.

Keep your promises. This is the big one. Whether it’s forwarding an article, making a call or making an introduction, I’m always making electronic notes as a reminder to do something I promised.  To me, follow-up is a leading indicator of a person’s sincerity, second only to written thank you notes.

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Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.