How to Network at an Association Meeting
Did you know that approximately 70 percent of all jobs are found through networking?
Needless to say, effective networking is vital to your continued business success. Very rarely
does business just “fall into our laps.” Instead, successful business partnerships are created when
we make an effort to target potential customers, establish communication, and cultivate longterm
As a member of the home builders association, you should try to take full advantage of all the
business-building opportunities of your membership. By getting actively involved in the
association, you can develop a substantial network of business contacts. There is nothing like
working side-by-side with another member on a committee or community project to learn what
really makes them tick, and to show them what you are all about. But to get to that point, you
first have to master the basics of networking, the first step toward connecting with other people.
Below are the “Top 10” secrets for networking. Feel free to adapt these basics to your own
approach, and develop a networking style that feels most natural and honest to you. You will be
networking like a professional in no time!
BEFORE THE MEETING
1. Develop a memorable introduction for yourself. It should be brief (five to seven seconds)
yet intriguing. “Hello, my name is Joe Builder, and I help people landscape the homes of
2. Put your business cards in only one pocket of your jacket. Leave the other pocket free to
put in business cards from your new contacts. This way, you will look prepared when you
pull your card out easily from one pocket instead of fishing through a pile of cards.
3. Check your appearance (and your breath)! You only get about ten seconds to make a first
impression. Why take any chances?
DURING THE MEETING
4. Smile! Be friendly and show enthusiasm. People are drawn to pleasant people.
5. Ask questions and, above all, listen to the answers. A general membership meeting is also
a social function. Give and get information. Ask other members how long the have been
involved in the association, what committees they serve on, or if they have ever heard the
guest speaker before. Find out what interests them and keep on that subject. You do not
have to know much about the topic; the important thing is to simply establish a good
6. Do not sell. Do not sell. Do not sell! This point cannot be emphasized enough!
Networking is a means of giving and getting information; it is a mutually beneficial
exchange. It is not a one-way street for you to make sales. It is not making one party feel
intruded upon at an event that was intended to be fun. This is a great opportunity to find out
about a person’s interests in a relaxed atmosphere, and to let him know how you can help
him in the future; but do not try and close a deal at a monthly meeting or any other social
event. There is a time for everything, and this is not the time.
7. Hand out your business card wisely. If it is not suitable to the conversation, or if you have
not even really had a conversation, keep your card in your pocket. Use your business card as
a means to follow-up a personal exchange and as a way for that person to remember you.
8. Moderate your eating and drinking. Do not drink too much, and do not be the first person
in the buffet line. Good manners still matter a lot, especially when you are making a first
AFTER THE MEETING
9. Follow-up with the contacts you have made. If you told someone at the meeting about a
recipe she would enjoy, send it immediately with a handwritten note. Did you see a
magazine article on that product a particular builder member was talking about? Mail it to
him with a personalized message. Such small courtesies are remembered for a long time.
10. Volunteer for any committee or association activity that you expect the targeted
customer to attend, based on your earlier conversations. Volunteering for the association is
one of the best ways to show your trustworthiness and commitment as a partner in the
industry, and one of the best opportunities to work next to builders. Whether that means
sponsoring an event or joining a committee or council, you can be pro-active in your
networking strategies without being aggressive.
Remember, the follow-up contact you make after the meeting is just as important as your initial
encounter. Treat the potential customer or client as you would like to be treated, and you will
definitely be on the right track to increased sales.