Last night, Lynette and I gave a fabulous Networking Workshop at ETTWomen’s Central Jersey Chapter.
The topic is important because for those of us who are not natural extroverts (believe it or not, I am not), networking events can be uncomfortable. Our annual conference is coming up and we want everyone attending to make the most out of those 2 days.
It can genuinely and royally suck to be in a crowded room at one of those tall tables with no one to talk to, a small plate of cheese and grapes in front of you, a glass of cheap wine in one hand and your business cards in the other.
Whenever I talk about the 360º lifestyle what I am saying is how important it is to be who you are, wherever you are. People connect to people and over the years I have fostered many wonderful relationships, through authenticity.
With time, your ‘connections’ get to know, like and trust you. If you have built the relationships based on honesty, asking for help and the business will never feel uncomfortable.
I can attest to the fact that my personal and professional growth and my ability to scale has been because of someone I know or who knows someone I know -hence, the power of connections and relationship marketing.
Yes, that’s an actual thing which we’ll cover in Part 2 of this post next week.
So, what the heck do you do when you go out ‘networking’?
I am not going to lie, many networking events have left me with a bad taste in my mouth because of the awkward social situations that occur or I’ve created.
The event organizers had the very best of intentions -to create an experience for you to build your rolodex. Yet, there you are, surrounded by people who may be just like you.
Highly successful women build game changing relationships that have helped them launch and run their businesses. And guess what? They were not big fans of networking either. Or at least, they weren’t until they figured out how to find great new business relationships at the right events.
Here are 5 key things to keep in mind when you set out to go to your next networking event networking:
- Know who you don’t know, but want to. Is there a specific person or type of person you need to meet? Maybe an industry expert who knows about selling into the Fortune 100?
- Do your homework. There are hundreds of networking events, and they come in all shapes and sizes: by industry, specifically for entrepreneurs, women-only. Do some research and see if any of the people you want to meet are speaking at local events.
- Know your story and your audience. Get your talking points together. Don’t be rehearsed. Different people respond to different things. Be open to talking about anything but business.
- Know your ask and don’t be shy. When you hang out with wildly successful people, you will find that they tend to be pretty vocal about what they want and they are not afraid to ask for help. Asking for someone’s advice about a topic they know well is a great way to get a conversation started and bonds formed. It’s actually cool to have your ask turn into a successful person’s thoughtful input on what they would do if they were in your shoes. That person you are talking to becomes engaged in your success.
- Do what you say you will do. You are done. You went to the event, worked the room because you had a plan, and you executed on that plan. Sure, you were a little nervous, but it got easier as the night progressed. Now, it’s time to act. Take up your new connection’s offer to help. People attend events because they are social opportunities to meet new business connections, share their platform, and learn new things. Follow-up. Be persistent but also be respectful of your new connection’s time.
Now, put on your favorite shoes, load up on business cards, and go make some friends. Most of all, enjoy yourself.
Believe it or not, networking can actually be fun!
Come back for more! Next week I’ll be discussing Part 2 of this post: Networking VS. Relationship Building.