Ah networking, the professional schmoozing we either love, hate or tolerate. Most professionals will tell you networking is a very crucial part of your career growth and success (however you define it). And I would have to agree … if done correctly.
Networking has always been one of my mantras, for you never know who you might meet again. Through networking, I have met some amazing people (even in an Uber pool … hello!). But it is also something I have to mentally prepare for at times. So here is what I do.
Say yes: When I am new to a company, position or city I usually say yes to most after work events. This is a great way to diversify your after work activity. Additionally, you will meet an array of like-minded people.
Meetups: With that said, I highly recommend Meetup groups. They are brilliant in connecting you with people outside of your usual circle, personally and professionally. Whether it is Mondays with your cycling group or Wednesdays with entrepreneurs, remember even when you are leisurely going about your activity the person next to you could give you your next job opportunity.
Give an introduction with flavor: Many people are most mundane in answering the “what do you do?” question. I find spewing out your job title to this question a bit vanilla, and to explain your job description could take some of us all night. So find something positive you love about what you do and turn it into a flavorful introduction. For instance, “I inspire the next generation of fashion marketers and brand managers”.
Transform online connections to offline relationships: Don’t just use Twitter to collect news stories, but use it to create contacts online. Twitter is such an open source and connects you to people you wouldn’t normally cross paths with. Share the best quote or slogan that will make people click on your story that otherwise they wouldn’t bother to read. Respond to retweets, and this is probably not a novel thought, but spark up a conversation with a fellow tweeter of interest.
Werk it: This I find to be the most challenging. By nature, we are drawn to people we know and stay with them. Take a deep breath and walk away from your group. Try sparking up a conversation with a stranger or a group of them. I find a compliment can usually get us chatting “I love your shoes.” A fool-proof way to make a lovely lady feel good for the rest of the evening.
Follow up: If you have ever told someone, “let’s connect sometime” and never made an effort then this is for you. Most people fail at networking because they aim to collect business cards or email addresses, only. Don’t waste time making connections you do not need or want or plan to follow up with. Therefore, send an email within a couple of days of meeting. Try to remember something about that person or what they said to mention in the email – it shows you were listening and had a real interest in the person and what they had to say.
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