Contributed by Courtney Madson
For some, networking can seem more like a task than an opportunity. While others, count the days until their next chance to meet and mingle. No matter your feeling about it, networking is key to both professional and personal growth. With these tips, you’ll be on your way to developing lasting business relationships and becoming a stronger networker.
Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
It’s easy to stay within your comfort zone, but by showing up for this event, you’ve already taken a small step out of it. Use this opportunity to meet new people. Feel free to start by networking with people you know, but don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to those you don’t. You never know, that one step out of your comfort zone could be one step closer to your dream job.
Networking events are the perfect opportunity to make new connections and strengthen existing business relationships. With any relationship, it’s important to be yourself and sell people on what makes you-you. So, rather than say what you think they want to hear, be genuine. This way you’re guaranteed to start authentic, lasting relationships, plus you won’t have to pretend to be someone different the next time you see them.
Stay Engaged and Present
In a world where it’s critical to stay connected- this tip may seem out of place. However, it may just be the reminder that we all need. Avoid checking emails, posting #Networking to your Instagram story, and updating your LinkedIn while at the event. Set down the phone, listen to what each person is saying and work to make individual connections. Remember, remain engaged and stay present.
Come Prepared and Ask Questions
Whether you signed up for the event three months ago or your coworker convinced you to go to the mixer during the lunch, it’s important to come prepared.
Research the Event
While you may not know all of the attendees, research the event to understand the theme, speaker, and purpose of the gathering. Having this understanding will help create a common ground when talking to others at the event.
Have business cards on hand and don’t be afraid share. If the event has a speaker or panel, don’t shy away from bringing a pen and paper to take notes.
Whatever you do, don’t be afraid to ask questions. By asking thoughtful questions, you’ll be able to learn about someone and will help you better plan for the follow-up.
You had a great event, and you’ve made some great contacts. Now what? The next step is to follow-up with more than just a LinkedIn invite. Send a follow-up email or even a hand-written note. If you can, thank them for the specific insights they provided or mention something that you may have discussed.
The thing to remember is that the more you network, the more comfortable you become with it. Seek out networking opportunities and network with everyone! Join WICT Southeast for Taste of WICT on Tuesday, January 30th in Atlanta and Thursday, February 15th in Knoxville to test out these new tips and hear from our dynamic keynote speakers. Watch our calendar for Nashville and Birmingham dates.
Courtney Madson works at Scripps Networks Interactive as an Associate Producer, based in Knoxville, Tennessee and has been a member of WICT since 2015.