Harvey Mackay Academy's Blog

Mackay Maxim: Prepare to win. Prepare to dazzle.

Preparing properly for networking opportunities beforehand can give you the edge to make that first impression – and create a valuable connection.

A first meeting could flop if you don’t make a strong enough first impression. After all, if someone doesn’t clearly remember you, your networking wasn’t truly successful. So how do you make that impression?

You need to prepare to win.

While it sounds simple, it’s true: like so many other things, the key to successful networking is in the preparation. When you set yourself up for victory, you’ll have a much easier time making a stellar first impression. That doesn’t mean practicing your introduction until it’s perfectly polished, though that can help. No, you need to do your research.

Research is the key to making that effective first impression.

Use your existing network to gather information. If you’re heading to a conference, there may be bios on other participants that can provide important information. With the internet and social media, there’s no limit to what you can learn about potential connections.

Preparedness means you’ll make a stand out first impression.

Do you and your potential networking member share an interest or hometown? Use that to spark a connection. For many people who attend business conferences, having the opportunity to talk about their interests turns potentially boring small talk into something meaningful.

Meaningful conversation is what will stick in that person’s memory, which means you’ll have a better chance of connecting with them later. But, if you don’t put in the work ahead of time, you probably won’t have that opportunity.

Not all networking opportunities are going to end with a business deal. But, by being prepared, you’ve given yourself and the other person an opportunity to have an enjoyable conversation. Everyone wins.

Potential conversation ideas to dazzle.

While the best way to make a stellar impression will depend on who you’re connecting with, here are some potential angles to consider when preparing to win:

  • Connecting to something about the other person’s hometown
  • Discussing major interests and hobbies
  • Talking about charity work or other causes you share an interest in

Don’t underestimate the value of doing your homework. It’s the only way to dazzle – and the best way to expand your network.

About the Author

Seven-time, New York Times best-selling author of "Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive," with two books among the top 15 inspirational business books of all time, according to the New York Times. He is one of America’s most popular and entertaining business speakers, and currently serves as Chairman at the MackayMitchell Envelope Company, one of the nation’s major envelope manufacturers, producing 25 million envelopes a day.