February '21

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Page 19 of 102

G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M 2 0 2 1 F E B R U A R Y G R A P H I C S P R O 1 5 There is a difference between making connections at business networking events and making friends at so- cial events. The difference becomes greater when one identifies, romances, and cultivates new contacts. As these events start to make a comeback, you should be prepared to cultivate. Shared interests are the start of relationship building. Activities like virtual events that are centered on orga- nizations and causes that one is passionate about, and that one strongly believes in, are great opportunities to meet and begin building friendships that can lead to strong networking connections. In his book, "Never Eat Alone," Keith Ferrazzi says, "When we are truly passionate about something, it's contagious. Our passion draws other people to who we are and what we care about. Others respond by letting their guard down, which is why sharing your passion is important in business." Building professional business relationships within the industry comes from opportunities to reach out, and to share information, ideas, processes, solutions to problems with equipment, etc. Cultivating industry friends that we meet through virtual trade shows and conferences (and physical ones again someday) can mean the difference between getting new information on how to make something work and blowing a lot of time trying to figure out the answer for oneself. CULTIVATE CONNECTIONS Building successful relationships no longer depends on having a large Rolodex filled with contact names and business cards. Now, besides attending events, we cul- tivate connections through social media and other op- portunities. However, the rules don't change. To grow and maintain solid relationships, we still have to: • Follow up with phone calls and emails among other special touches. Because our fast-paced, digital world is constantly bombarding us with names and contacts that require our attention, the thought of how to follow up with someone new can be overwhelming. The follow-up most people remember is the one that they receive first, which suggests that a quick, short, sincere email sent after a meeting can make the best impression. • Take extra steps. Business experts tell us that when we meet someone new that we want to add to our professional network, we must take the extra steps to make sure we don't get lost in their mental attic. continued on page 94

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