Over the years, I’ve had many opportunities to connect and network — and to really observe other people networking and attempting to connect. From a networking breakfast and panel discussion to a smaller information evening with other executives, I watched some awkward, as well as overlooked opportunities to connect meaningfully (and in some instances, genuinely self-promote) which have given me the chance to pass on a few tips….
Networking events where the moderator “opens the floor to questions” — is an opportunity not only to network, but to softly, self-promote:
- During Q&A session, use the microphone to your advantage. State your name. Tell people what you do. Then ask your thoughtful question.
- Be quotable. State your question clearly (write it down if you need to!). It’s a 140 character world — rambling, like umh, run on sentences are a thing of the past.
- You know your audience, dress with intention.
What to do when you’re invited to a smaller gathering with like-minded peers?
Should go without saying that you’ll have business cards handy…. In settings like this, everyone in the room is there (theoretically) to meet everyone else in the room. If the networking flow has stalled, be the introduction instigator (a simple “Hi, I’m___________and what brings you here this evening?” works just fine in situations where you’ve been invited to hear a speaker or to attend at the request of a smaller number of hosts). If your networking inhibitions are getting the best of you, find the host and ask her/him who you should meet — if it’s a small number of attendees, chances are the host has given quite a bit of consideration on who they want in the room and why they should meet each other.
And don’t forget the follow-up. Introductions and conversations over breakfast or cocktails are dissipating assets without the follow-up note, call or email.
A tip from a recruiter who I spoke with this week…take the call.
What does that mean?
If a recruiter calls you, take his or her call, even if it’s for an opportunity you’re not interested in, qualified for etc. That call with the recruiter is your chance to network and to tell the recruiter about your career ambitions and about the next job you’d like. Recruiters do after all, talk and network with each other.
You’re reading these networking tips on a social media/blogging site so a final networking reminder which comes from the late, great Frank Kimball (a role model, mentor and friend):
“Until you take the final step of connecting — personally, old school — the network is incomplete and useless.”