Walking into a room full of strangers may seem a bit scary to a lot of us. But, if we want to make the connections that we need in order to be successful in our professional lives---we have to do it. Most of it comes from fear of rejection or the lack of knowledge of how to approach someone or what to talk about. Networking is all about building relationships and talking about what you do. It's great for promoting your business, finding potential clients, building business contacts, and making connections with others in your industry.
We've got the millennial's ultimate guide to networking, use this guide for your next conference, summit, workshop, meeting, or party to make socializing with strangers a little bit easier.
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- Offer a compliment: Most conversations can easily start with a compliment. A simple "Hey, I really like your bag!" will do or if you recognize the person you can say something like "Hey, I really enjoyed that article you wrote on .....". Observe and use your imagination to get the conversation started.
- Start a conversation while fixing your makeup or washing your hands: You've either done this before or been a victim of it. Starting an awkward random-ass conversation in the bathroom just might lead you to your next client or potential business partner.
- Tweet about it!: Usually events create hashtags so that you can connect with other people. Take advantage of it and tweet before the event so you can create a new relationship with someone on Twitter.
- Talk to your Facebook friends: Ask your Facebook friends or group members if they'll be attending the event so maybe you can link up with others. Sort of pre-networking for your networking event.
- Carry business cards!: Never show up to an event empty handed. I know everything today is digital this + techy that, but it's really important to carry physical business cards so others can easily get in contact with you, remember what you do, find your website, and connect with you on social networks.
- Prepare a couple of conversation starters: Don't just talk about your skills, interests, qualities, and strengths. Talk about your journey, goals, and give examples of how you've applied those strengths at work or in your business.
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- Act like a Boss...even if you're not: Ever heard the phrase "fake it 'till you make it"? Yeah well, now's a good time to do that. Stand up straight, don't fidget. Give eye contact and smile. Make sure you give a nice firm handshake.
- Treat EVERYONE with the same respect: And I mean everyone guys. Treat the valet with the same respect as the CEO.
- Follow up!: Make sure you're following up with everyone within 48hrs. Email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. Remember you're building a relationship.
- Target people in your industry: Try to reach out to those who can help you, and you can do something for them in return. Conversations are built around how both of your can help each other. This means reaching out to potential clients//business partners//referrals//etc.
- Focus on the needs of others rather than your own agenda: Say you're a web designer and you meet a blogger and she's talking to you about how she's in the middle of re branding. That's your time to jump in and say "This is right up my alley, I can create an awesome site for you that's easy to manage, and looks amazing. If you'd like to work together, I'd love to know more about your vision!"
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- When first meeting someone use his/her name a few times to create a feeling of familiarity.
- Inquire about passions, hobbies, and interests, instead of just talking business.
- Relax, girl! You're not the only one who's nervous, trust me.
- Write a fact about each person on the back of their business card.
- Tell compelling stories + make yourself interesting.
- Wear a statement piece to make yourself visibly stand out from the crowd!
Questions to Ask:
- If you were introduced by someone, start by asking: "How long have you known?"
- What are you hoping to get out of this meeting//event?
- Who would be good people for you to meet/network with? Perhaps I may know someone who would be helpful for you?
- What current//upcoming projects are you working on right now?
- How did you get your start in your career//business?
Hopefully with this guide by your side, you'll dominate your next networking event and create relationships and opportunities that will lead to your next success!