The worlds best networking lesson from House of Commons speaker John Bercow

(3) Steer clear of the networking backlash

In 2009, Dr Ivan Misner, world guru on business networking and founder of BNI, which is famous for its networking breakfasts around the world, warned of a backlash against online networking.

He said then that too many business people were using channels like LinkedIn to hit up other people . Hi, Id like to connect which means Hi, Id love to sell to you. This has created a networking backlash. We no longer take cold approaches seriously. What could be a genuinely great connection is now sidestepped as spam.

Meeting people and connecting face to face is the worlds oldest form of communication. It doesnt need a formal environment. It can be on the tube, on the plane or your childs birthday party. For decades Misner has advocated: If people like you, they will want to do business with you. Proper offline connecting enables you to create a great rapport.

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(4) Live networking events: the essentials

For those of us whove forgotten the art of connecting in person, the rules are simple. Try to ensure you look vaguely presentable. You never know who you might bump into.

No need to stand on ceremony with people in the public eye. They walk, talk and go to the toilet just like everyone else. The key to great conversation is to be interested in other people and what they have to say.

Make eye contact with your counterpart. Do you find my shoes especially fascinating No Then why are you constantly looking at them

A little flattery can go a surprisingly long way. If you make people feel good about themselves, they tend to reciprocate in kind.

Howard Lewis, businessman, author and raconteur is the founder and director of technology-free networking experience, OFFLINE

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