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How to Network Without Sounding Like a Jerk

What are some things you should always say?

"You should always communicate your passion and say why you do what you do. Think about what you stand for, and never be afraid to communicate that," Dessi says.

You should also touch on the crux of what you do and what your company stands for. Branding and context are critical, Reinke says.

"It's easy for entrepreneurs to be so absorbed in their ideas and the execution that they forget when meeting someone new, they need to start with the basics. It's like walking into the middle of a conversation and no one takes time to bring you up to speed," she says.

Above all, never forget those magic words:

"Always say 'thank you'," Shook says.

What are the best rules of engagement when you want to promote your business?

"Always be humble, don't dominate the conversation, do not be perceived as 'holding court,' and earn the right to have someone ask you about your business," Shook says.

As with dating, professional networking can go a lot smoother with a little ice-breaker to warm up the conversation.

"Go for a simple question, such as 'How did you hear of this event?' Or, pull up a chair and sit down with a group and introduce yourself. If it doesn't click, leave," Witter says. "And if you want to move on when you're speaking with someone, say "It was so lovely meeting you. I have to step away, but let's definitely continue the conversation. Can I have your card?"

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