Network like an ad exec

By CHRIS HARLOW / GUEST COLUMNIST

A lifetime ago, I was told the key to writing advertising copy was to “Write it like an opera”

Specifically, the opera “AIDA.” Actually, it was less about Verdi’s opera and more about the acronym: Attention, Interest, Desire, Action.

AIDA works just as well for networking

-Attention. To draw attention to yourself, you could wear a bright tie or a carnation, but here’s an easier way. Walk up to someone, smile, extend your hand and say “Hi, my name is …” It works every time.

-Interest. You have something in common with every person at every networking event you will ever attend: the event itself. After the intros, try this: “Is this your first time at this event?”

The answer does not matter — just go with it — ask what usually happens, or why he or she came.

-Desire. This seems a bit out of place in networking, until you realize that you attended the meeting for a reason. You want to meet new people and begin to build a business relationship. So, now that you have gotten to know your new friend, hand her your business card and ask for hers. Look at it, read it, remember who he or she is and what they do for a living. By doing so, you will force them to read your card as well. Now is the time to combine desire with action.

-Action. At the appropriate time — perhaps when the speaker is announced — hold the card in your hand and simply say “I’d like to call you sometime next week and continue this conversation.”

That’s it — AIDA — Action, Interest, Desire, Action — you’ve just met someone at a networking function and have set a tentative date to call and follow up. Make sure you make that call.

Chris Harlow is the senior executive advisor with Career Concepts Inc.