I’m not sure about everyone else, but when I use to hear the word “networking” I’d quickly back away from the conversation and avoid anything like it. why? well for starters, I often had this idea that networking meant uncomfortable conversations, awkward silences, and wasted time. but the more networking events I went to, the less they manifested into what I thought they were. in fact, by targeting networking events (or panels or art shows or random events) that were actually interesting to me, I was able to bypass the awkward feelings all together and reap the benefits of each event individually. sometimes I came out with good contacts and sometimes I didn’t, but I always make sure that there’s something I can learn from each event.
Sandy Jones-Kaminski, author of I’m at a Networking Event, Now What???, breaks networking down perfectly into bite-sized pieces of information. here are my takeaways from Sandy’s book:
networking does not just happen at events
this was perhaps the biggest takeaway for me – networking happens all around us, on the bus, at lunch, and in line for coffee. it isn’t just done in formal settings, but in informal ones all around you. understanding this and comprehending the fact that networking is not evil is a great way to start upping your networking game.
focus on what you can give
far too often, people think of networking as a way to get what they want. a better way to approach new conversations and relationships is to take the kennedy approach – ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country. think about ways you can help out the people around you. believe me, it’s an extremely valuable thing to do.
keep it casual
instead of narrowing in on what you want out of a networking event, spend time getting to know others. ask where they’re from, how they got into the career they’re in and so forth.
greed smells bad
no matter what you’ve thought, people can smell greed a mile away. don’t go to an event looking to fulfull every desire you have (are you sensing a theme in this post like I am?), instead go with an open mind and full heart. you’ll go much farther.
put your name tag on the right side
got a sticky with your name on it? put it on the right side of you to coincide with your handshake. it creates a good line of sight for the people you’re meeting. and while we’re at, make sure you’ve got a firm, but not crazy strong, handshake. a limp handshake does no good for anyone.
host a “pay it forward” party
there are a lot more details in the book, but hosting events that help people network with each other are great places to expand your network and find ways to help others.
overall, this was a great, short read on networking. I finished feeling like networking is more doable and accessible than I originally thought. and because Sandy is an awesome person and wants to pass on the good information, she’s partnering with us to give one lucky reader a free copy! just fill out your information here: a Rafflecopter giveaway
we’ll announce the winner soon. good luck!