Networking may seem like just showing up at events and passing out your cards, but when done right it can be the lifeblood of your job search or connect you with the right partner for your startup. I hear a lot of clients tell me they are tired of networking. They say no one welcomes them, people hand out cards but don’t seem to be interested in connecting or that they feel judged. These are all things that happen but shouldn’t stop you from utilizing networking for what it truly is; An opportunity to connect with an untapped market, find a partner for a new initiative/project and in some instances find a friend who really gets you.
Here are a few ways to up your game when it comes to networking!
1. Never Go Alone – You are at your best when you feel comfortable and can speak confidently about yourself or your business. Even the
most confident person has to fight the new room jitters. It’s always easier to have a wing-woman by your side to ease your nerves and give you that “Girl, You got this!” pep talk. A great wing-woman will chime in and make sure you don’t leave anything out. I personally have a Business Bestie who knows just as much about my business as I do, and vice versa. We attend events together and it seems that we organically sell each other. We make the most of events when we work together!
Sidebar: If you don't have a Business Bestie, this might be the best way to find one. Going to events can open you up to new people and friendships. A Business Bestie is someone who understands your goals, connects with where you want to be and holds you accountable. My Business Bestie and I meet weekly to talk about ways to elevate our businesses and check in on our progress with goals. We've vowed to be honest with each other and call each other out when we start to slack! It's been a mutually beneficial relationship and I suggest it to everyone.
2. Wear Your Statement Piece – What’s a statement piece? It’s something that brings attention and can be a conversation starter. It could be a necklace, a pair of shoes or even a handbag or portfolio that stands out and calls people to you. Your statement piece may also give you the boost of confidence you need! When you wear it, you feel like you can do anything! I have a necklace that I love wearing to events. It’s bright pink, aligns with my brand and I get so many compliments when I’m wearing it. I turn those compliments into conversations about my work. It’s much easier to connect when someone else starts the conversation. What’s your statement piece?
3. Do Your Research – Be sure to find an event that aligns with your goals. It’s not helpful to go to every event in town. You want to make the most of your time and know that when you get there, you’ll find connections that can be mutually beneficial. In the age of information, almost every event has a page or website. I’ve found new clients, been asked to speak at conferences, and found my Business Bestie all from attending events that made sense for my goals.
BONUS: If you can’t find it, create it! If you find that you have interests in a very specific area but can’t find a networking meeting that makes sense for you, create one! I personally co-host 2 networking events created for this reason and I’ve heard positive feedback from participants who continue to enjoy them. You never know who else is out there waiting to attend an event you’ve been thinking about creating.
I encourage you to attend and/or create space for people to meet, connect and grow their passions. If you have any other tips specific to networking, I’d love to hear them! Comment below!