Collections of a Young Professional.
No. 4 | Three Strategies for Networking.
Every young professional thinks they are getting the short end of the stick when they are asked to attend a networking event for work. It means extra hours and extended conversations with people you really are not sure you want to do business with. Stop being pessimistic!The photo above was taken at an all women’s digital entrepreneur event I attended in Dallas, TX. It was incredibly intimidating to be surrounded by over 150 women who are total #GIRLBOSSes (Btw, If you haven’t read this book put it on your list now). As I was getting ready for the event I was stressing over shoes that wouldn’t make me too tall or too short, stuffing my purse with business cards, and rehearsing various answers to questions I could imagine being asked. No matter where or who you are networking with you should create a routine for yourself to build confidence, kick ass, and sell your brand. Here is a breakout of my routine:
Before You Go.
Yes, That Takes Thought.
Outfit. I mentioned I don’t like being too short or too tall, right? I always start choosing my outfit with these questions: 1) Who is hosting the event? 2) What time is this event? 3) Where is the event? These three questions should indicate a perfectly balanced business casual or totally pantsuit wearing professional choice. No matter what the final outfit is, always remember to include at least one article of clothing that makes you feel like a boss. Confidence in your outfit will make you confident in your speech.
Preparations. Bring one too many business cards because you don’t want to miss an opportunity to exchange cards with a prospective client! Pop in a mint or chew gum on your way to the event – but make sure you spit out any gum before entering! Lastly, choose a notebook and pen over your cell phone for any note taking. Even in a professional environment where everyone has their phone on the table it it still considered rude to be taking notes on your phone. People often assume you are texting, so if you must go a digital route bring your iPad or tablet of choice.
Pitch. Know your audience and prepare a different pitch that aligns your brand with the event. Your pitch shouldn’t be exactly the same everywhere you go. Stay consistent with your brand but be creative in your delivery!
Once You’re There.
Oh No, You’re Not Sitting Down!
Approach People with Similarities. It may sound like the opposite of what you should do, but you need one easy approach under your belt before you start working the room. Quickly seeking out someone who you may get along with breaks the ice, so to speak, and opens you up to conversation. If you want to be a real #girlboss or #bossbabe then go in with the challenge of meeting new people immediately. You’ll be introduced to more diverse conversations right off!
Offer Advice and Friendly Conversation. Professionals present at the event are seeking connections to sell to prospective clients, enhance their knowledge of new industries, or make new business connections for a future phone call. Play an active role in the conversation – offer your advice when appropriate, commentary on your own experiences, and extend the offer to connect or help them connect with the right people. You never know how they could help you in return.
Have Your Own Agenda. You are not there just for the challenge of speaking to people outside of your industry. There should always be a reason to attending an event. Always go with an outcome or goal in mind.
Don’t Say You Are Going To Call And Then Don’t.
Call, Text, or Email. The first part of the very next day should be dedicated to reaching out to each of your promising connections. Email is probably the best form of communication for most professionals – be short and specific about your needs and how you wish to connect with them. This will help them determine whether or not you deserve a response. If you stop here, you technically did what you sought out to do. If you know they are important to the growth your brand then don’t stop with one failed email attempt, keep pushing!
Being asked to attend an event doesn’t have to mean getting the short end of the stick. It is an opportunity to meet new people, learn about new industries, and possibly make great connections for yourself, your brand, and your company. Networking creeps itself into every facet of your professional and personal life. You will find yourself speaking about your brand at a business luncheon, on a flight to see your out of town friends, or even at a gallery opening. Because you believe in the brand you are selling it is important to always be prepared for those pop up opportunities to pitch, exchange a business card, and work an angle to get a meeting with the executive in front of you. You will never experience the rewards of signing a new client if you don’t get out of your comfort zone and start the #bossbabe networking challenge!
Striving to be Culturally Fluent & Collectively Individual.