Hello

Networking.  

Step One – Show Up

 

 

 

 

Step One: Show Up

It sounds simple, yes, but how many times have you been invited to an event and you have every intention to go, and then last minute “something comes up” and you bail?  Probably more often than any of us would like to admit.  Networking is out of 99% of people’s comfort zones – yes, even for extroverts, so bite the bullet, suck it up, and show up already.

Ok… maybe don’t just show up.  You do need to prepare a little, here are some helpful tips to do just that:

 

Research the event

  • Is there a speaker you can do some research on?
  • Is there a charity the event supports that you should have some info on?

The more you know, the more you will have to talk about.  People are attracted to confidence, and want to be talking to people who know what’s going on.  Be that guy.

 

You will definitely be asked “So, what brings you out to this event?”  

  • Are you looking for a job?
  • Are you looking for business prospects?
  • Does the speaker/charity strike a chord with you?

Not only is this a common conversation starter at a mixer, luncheon, gala, etc. but it’s a great intro for you to connect with people who can help your initiatives, and people whose initiative you can help.  If you don’t know why you’re there, how are you supposed to make any meaningful connections?  In that case, go home and watch Netflix (House of Cards’ new season just came out).

 

Bring business cards – always have a small handful with you in the event you connect with someone and need to follow up later.

  • Don’t take a card from everyone, because then it’s just noise and you will forget who you talked to and who walked around handing out their b cards like skittles.
  • Likewise, don’t do that yourself.

I like to go into any event with a specific goal.  “Today I am going to have 2 meaningful conversations that warrant a follow up and help me reach my goal of…” Another fun rule of thumb?  Don’t have more glasses of wine than meaningful conversations.

 

Dress appropriately.

  • Is a full tux and top hat/gown necessary? No, this isn’t Downton Abby.
  • Guys wear anything from some nice slacks (yeah I said slacks, I’m really into Downton Abby right now, back off) and a button up shirt to a full suit.
  • Ladies it should go without saying, but leggings aren’t pants, so err on the side of being conservative and wear anything from a blouse and skirt /slacks to a full suit.

 

Step Two: Smile and Be Nice

Remember when I said everyone is as nervous as you?  Walk up to someone, SMILE, say hello.  They will love it.  It’s that easy, did I just blow your mind?  Here are some things to be aware of and some things to avoid:

  • After you introduce yourself, for the love of all that is good and pure in the world do NOT ask about the weather. This is Edmonton, its cold.  There, mystery solved, you’re welcome.
  • People like to talk about themselves. It’s literally my favourite topic.  So ask questions to the person you approached, about that person. 
  • The effort you put into starting a conversation only matters as much as you listen to the answer.
  • The effort you put into starting a conversation only matters as much as you listen to the answer.
  • Keep it positive. No one wants to hear you complain.  Trust me, the only thing people like less is being asked about the weather.

And of course, no one likes a clinger.  So when the conversation gets to that awkward, “maybe we should talk about the weather?” part, tell your new connection it was lovely chatting with them and to enjoy the rest of their night.  A classy exit is to introduce them to someone else and then walking away.

 

Step Three: Follow Up

You made it out alive, hallelujah!  You are a God among mere mortals.  Call your mom! Brag to strangers on the street!  Buy yourself a car!  Buy me a car!

But even in your immortal glory, you are not above following up.  Jot down some notes of who you need to follow up with and about what (this where you will truly appreciate the glasses of wine to meaningful conversation ratio).  The very next day, send out whatever emails you promised, and make them personal (this is where that listening tip really comes in handy).

For continuity purposes, here are some tips:

  • Don’t add anyone you met to a spam list at work (if that’s even a thing anymore)
  • Don’t send out generic LinkedIn requests, tailor them to where you met and why you’d like to LI
  • Don’t forget to follow up, you are so close to drop the ball now!

A blog by our: Lily Brooks

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