Marketing and Communications Consultant, Reeya Patel has combined her experience with her interest in recruitment and career development for the fabulous females amongst you. A big believer that being happy and motivated in your career brings not only professional, but personal growth; she’s keen to share her career and personal branding advice with Girl Crew members globally. For more, follow Reeya on Twitter @_reeyapatel6 or connect with her via LinkedIn.
The changing room of your local gym, queuing for your 8am caffeine fix or trawling through your Twitter followers on your commute home; we’re all living in an increasingly connected world.
Many of these connections are local, national, some international and an increasing number being made online via digital channels.
‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ Ever heard that phrase? Yes? That’s why networking works. And never has that been as true as in today’s digitally driven environment. As a marketer, I know that conversation and connection count. Over the past 18 months I’ve re-discovered the extrovert in me. I’ve sought out opportunities to meet and connect with new people, have richer conversations, as well as strengthening existing relationships with friends, work colleagues, acquaintances and basically…network. If networking is new on your radar and the idea of talking to a room full of strangers leaves you running a cold sweat, let me share some tips to get you schmoozing.
1. Do your digging
Is the networking event industry specific? What format does it take; an informal ‘chat’ over after work drinks or more of a corporate breakfast session? Do some digging and research different types of networking events, talks and seminars, find common interest groups on Meetup, take to Twitter and scout out opportunities suited to you and your industry.
2. Tell me what you want, what you really, really want
Are you looking for a new job, advice on how to break into a new industry, are you looking to collaborate, gain new business leads or to launch your niche product?
Decide beforehand, what you want to get out of the event. This leads me nicely onto my next point…
3. Prepare your elevator pitch
You should be able to introduce yourself and explain what you do in the space of 10-15 seconds. In the world of PR and journalism, we call this pitching; you want to grab someone’s attention, you want to make a positive impact and you don’t have long to do it. Refine your elevator pitch, practice it in front of the mirror, in front of your harshest critic, write it down, and critique it.
4. Find common ground
It’s easier to build rapport with light and informal two-way conversation and the best way to start this is to find common ground with the other person. When you speak to people ask easy, open questions; “mind if I join you?” or even “how are you finding this event?” You’re more likely to maintain a conversation, rather than going straight in with an abrasive sales pitch.
5. Eye contact
Did you know lack of eye contact can make you appear unprepared and uninterested? It can be daunting starting that first conversation, but try to catch someone’s eye, maintain eye contact and above all…smile.
6. Say my name, say my name
In Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends & Influence People, his advice is to: Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.Using someone’s name is more personal, you’re getting their attention and acknowledging their presence- let’s face it, everyone wants to feel valued!
10. Believe you have the right to be there
No one remembers the shy, retiring wallflower who stays at the back of the room. Be confident in your abilities and believe you can add value in what you have to offer…whether it’s dog grooming, cosmetic tattooing or plastic piping…pipe anyone?
11. Find a Wingwoman/Wingman
Do you have a business partner, colleague or freelancing friend interested in making new contacts? Take them along as your wingwoman or wingman, when people see you smiling and making conversation with your side kick, you’ll appear friendly and they’ll be more inclined to approach you. Stuck for someone to join you? Find your local GirlCrew group and post to see if any of the girls there are interested in joining you.
Sometimes size does matter and it’s easier to catch someone’s eye in a smaller crowd, even if you don’t immediately speak to someone who is of interest to you, persevere and keep mingling. Consider staying towards the end of the event where you can spend more time chatting.
13. Personal branding
You are your own personal brand and what better way to promote what you have to offer than having examples of your work in a portfolio or tablet device, branded collateral and business cards.
14. Follow up
You’ve returned home with an array of new contacts and potential job opportunities; make an instantly proactive impression and follow up with an email or an add on LinkedIn with a personalised message. It will make you memorable. Trust me.