Successful Networking in Nine Steps
As bloggers we rely so much on social media, we sometimes forget the importance of face to face meetings. Networking may be a lost art thanks to social media, but it is still one that does offer true benefits when done effectively. So, whether you are at a tweetup or a true networking event here are nine tips to make it a success.
1. Don’t rely on sticky name tags
I hate those sticky tags, don’t you? Guys don’t wear all different kinds of materials - but women do. Those tags never stick well to most of my clothing and by the time the night is over, I’ve either lost it or it has found its way into the back of my hair somehow. To combat this, travel with your own pre-made name tag that you can pin on to your shirt. If you have the one with the plastic pocket, you can even put your business cards in there.
2. Arrive early
Besides the fact that arriving early allows me to get a great parking spot, it allows me to get the lay of the land and I can scope out who’s there and who I want to network with. If you arrive just after an event has started, most attendees are probably engrossed in a conversation already. Then you are left on your own until someone is free.
3. Check your breath
There’s nothing worse than talking to someone with bad breath. So, make sure to avoid garlic, onions and other bad breath instigators at lunch. And always carry breath mints with you too.
4. Dress Up
In this era we might be tempted to dress down or like hipsters, cause, hey, we are bloggers after all. But if you have ambition to be something more, maybe even be a professional writer, than you need to dress the part. Not only does dressing up make you feel better about yourself but others notice you and wonder either consciously or subconsciously “Who is that? She certainly looks important.”
5. Be nice to the greeter
Often as we are rushing into a meeting we barley acknowledge the person checking us in. We look for our name badge or utter our name to him or her, get checked off and that's it. Big mistake. If there is someone who is attending that networking event you wanted to make contact with this is the person who will know when they arrive and can point them out to you. Always make friends with the greeter.
6. Know your pitch
When job hunting, advice you get about networking says you must know your elevator pitch - the 30 second to 1 minute summary of your and your talents. When someone asks what you do, be prepared to state in about two short sentences what it is you do. While he may not be the right person to give you a writing contract, they may know someone who does.
7. Be authentic
Some of the biggest fakers I’ve ever met have the biggest personalities online. It is astounding how big a person seems behind a computer but in person they are so reserved and standoffish. I try to be the same person offline as I am online. If your personalities online and offline don’t match it tends to people not feeling as if they can trust you. And that will never lead anywhere good.
8. Focus on who you are talking to
Have you ever been in a conversation with someone that you can tell isn’t listening to you? They are simply scoping out the room for the next person they want to talk to? Isn’t that annoying. If that is the case politely excuse yourself – they aren’t listening to you anyway – and find someone else to talk to. But more importantly don’t do this to someone else. If you find the person uninteresting, than excuse yourself, but don’t let them occupy your time until you find someone else to speak with. That’s just rude.
9. Follow up and follow through
Make sure to connect on various social media channels with those important connections you make at a networking meeting. One of the qualities I value most in people I maintain long term relationships with is how good they are about keeping their word. If I say I am going to connect two people, I do it. Not all, but many, will remember you as a person of your word and in a world where many are not, this is good networking karma.