Sue Ahern is Training Director at Creative People
It was my great pleasure to meet so many wonderful women at the recent networking workshop. For those of you who couldn’t attend here are some tips which really work.
1. Pick your venue
There are plenty to choose from. If you don’t like the vibe of one organisation’s events, try another. You can choose gender-specific hosted events such as Sound Women or industry specific occasions, such as the Radio Festival.
2. Go ready to give
Don’t come with the goal of getting something. Give something first. Don’t worry about the quid pro quo. The benefit of helping may not come immediately, but it will in six months to a year.
3. Know your elevator pitch
You are not there to make a sale so you don’t need to close the deal. You do need to let people know who you are and what you do in a way that makes them want to hear more. The idea of the elevator pitch is that it’s short; you have a limited amount of time to hook people with what you do. So you prepare a paragraph that indicates what you do and gets their interest (and helps them remember you) in the time it takes to do a short elevator ride with someone. It should be no more than 20 seconds or three to four sentences. Although it should be prepared, it has to sound natural, not as though you’ve given the same speech to a hundred people. If it sounds too rehearsed, you’ll sound like a sales person.
4. Ask questions
Women are great at building closeness and connections through conversation. By asking questions you’ll engage the person and really get to know what they do. Still not comfortable? Pretend you are interviewing people for an article about the event; get the who, what, and why. Make the task less personal.
5. Don’t stay in your comfort zone
To network well you should have conversations with several people not just cling on desperately to the first one you talk to.
6. Make it a game
How many business cards can you collect in one hour? Work with a friend: the one with the most gets a free lunch.
7. Follow up afterwards
If you want to get to know someone better, follow up after the meeting with a phone call, a one-on-one meeting or connect with them on LinkedIn.
8. Take the pressure off
You aren’t establishing a long-term relationship yet. You are just opening the door to possible relationships. If someone seems interesting, contact them later to get started on that relationship.
All of these ideas serve one purpose, to take the focus off you—nerve-wracking!—and put it on the other people—interesting! Look past the crowd of strangers and see the individuals, some of whom can help you and some of whom you can help.