The biggest mistake you can make is waiting to network until you are on the hunt for a new job. You should always be fostering your relationships and expanding your network. Never stop networking.
Networking allows you to keep a pulse on upcoming opportunities, trends in industries that interest you, and more importantly, allows you the opportunity catch up with friends and colleagues. Stay tuned over the coming weeks as I provide tips and tricks on how to leverage your network! Today, let's start with a few basics!
We are all so busy. You may be wondering how you are going to fit yet another thing into your busy day. It can sound like a chore, but I promise you, it does not have to be work. Start by making a list of people you would like to connect with and prioritize that list. Who is most influential in their field? Who works in an industry that interests you? Once you have your list, I recommend blocking off time on your calendar each month to dedicate solely to networking. Schedule a phone call, a coffee, a happy hour. Research local meet-up groups, professional associations, etc. Commit to yourself that you will attend one event a month or connect with one person each week. Set a goal, and hold yourself accountable!
Networking may be catching up with old colleagues, but it also includes going to events where you may not know anyone. Personally, I LOVE meeting new people, but to others, I realize this can be terrifying! Even the most confident person can become intimidated when encountering the unknown. Take a deep breath and remember that you are not the only one feeling this way!
Whether you are meeting someone one-on-one, or attending an event, be unforgettable. You will find that many people wear black to networking events. Wear brightly colored pants, a red tie, or a bold necklace. This may even give you a boost in confidence as you introduce yourself to new people! Another way to stand out is to dress one step above the expected dress code. What this means is if you expect people to be wearing business casual-slacks and a blouse to an event, you should wear a suit or dress. At a networking event you are one person in a huge crowd of people, you need to think of ways to stand out so you are memorable!
So you are at an event, now what!? Walk up to someone you would like to engage in conversation. If the person is not already engaged, politely introduce yourself and shake their hand. If others are in conversation, quietly approach the group, smile, make eye contact and wait until there is a break in conversation where you can introduce yourself! It can seem odd, but if you are at a networking event, everyone else is there to network as well, so don't hesitate to approach people you don't know! Once you introduce yourself, remembering that person’s name is key. The easiest way to do so is to repeat their name, "Tom, it is very nice to meet you.” Making great eye contact is also important. The next time you introduce yourself to someone, I challenge you to look at their eye color. When you can identify someone’s eye color – it is a safe bet you are making great eye contact!
The best conversation starter after exchanging introductions is to ask a question. “What brought you here?”, “Have you been here before?”, “How do you know the host?”, or “What industry do you work in?” Utilize the setting to frame your first questions. This will break the ice and help both you and the person you are speaking with feel more comfortable.
READY FOR MORE?
You have introduced yourself, now what? We have just scratched the surface! Stay tuned for for information about creating a killer elevator speech, how to leverage your network and how to make the most out of your networking events! If you are interested in diving deeper with a personalized career coaching session, visit https://www.talentq.net/career-coach for more info! I'm happy to help!
Cheers to a great Monday,