There’s no perfect formula to networking. A couple days ago, I was scrolling through LinkedIn looking for women to feature on the mentorship program that I’m on the marketing committee for, called Kinetic-Her. (For those of you interested in receiving or becoming a mentor, check out the Kinetic-Her site. Kinetic-Her provides career connections and guidance by connecting driven women who are under 35 to career women.) While I was searching, I realized I’m connected with some awesome people that I barely speak to. That’s when I thought, I am great at making connections but I can improve my follow up and follow through game. As someone who has now hosted three networking events, I thought it would be helpful to create a blog post about how to network like a boss.
We’ve all heard the saying, “your network is your net worth.” That saying is true. 85% of jobs are filled through networking. Yet 1 in 4 people don’t network at all! Many of the positions posted on job boards are spoken for and many open positions are never posted. If you want to acquire your dream job or dream client, it’s time to start networking. I know networking can be daunting. It’s scary for me as well. However, the 7 tips I’ve outlined below will help you move past the fear and reap the benefits instead.
1. Seek genuine connections
Instead of going to an event and passing out your business card to everyone, seek to meet three to five quality contacts. Small talk can be so annoying. I’m not a huge fan of it myself. Although, small talk leads to digging deeper. Go in with the mentality that you’re going to meet people and have conversations. Similar to when you meet a friend for dinner. I love learning about people’s stories and experiences. Start with a greeting and see where the conversation leads. If it starts to dwindle, end it. If it peaks your interest, engage more. My most valuable connections have come through connecting with someone on real life experiences and understanding who they are and why they do what they do.
2. Do your research
Networking can feel very awkward and sometimes feel useless. It’s like any other type of relationship, it takes time to get better and flourish. Preparing for a networking event can make your experience much better. If you know who’s going to be there, you can read about them ahead of time. Check out their social media pages and recent work. That way when you go to speak to them you have something to talk about and smart questions to ask. People love receiving feedback from others. Anyone I’ve ever met in person or online who has referenced a blog post of mine has always gotten my attention because it means a lot to me that they checked out my work.
3. Offer value
Have your elevator pitch ready. If you don’t know what an elevator pitch is, it’s a quick summary of who you are and what you do in about 30-60 seconds. Sharing your elevator pitch and listening to the other persons will help you determine how your relationship can be beneficial to you both. One of my mentors told me to always offer your service to someone you’re interested in collaborating or learning from. Most people will be receptive to help.
4. Actively listen
Don’t obsess over writing copious notes and hearing every word said during a presentation at an event. Instead seek to walk away with three gems that will help you move forward. Actionable takeaways will be more helpful than pages full of notes you won’t ever review again.
5. Post on social media while at a networking event
Posting while you’re at the event is a fantastic way to promote the event organizers and your brand. Make sure to use the appropriate hashtags and tag the right people. This a great way for people at the event to discover your profile and for people not there to follow your experience.
6. Don’t be afraid to slide into people’s DM’s
Two of the speakers from our 2020 Vision Brunch came from social networking. I connected with these women through a direct message then proceeded to get on a call and eventually meet them in person. Meeting people online can be scary but usually the people you meet are normal and have similar interests. Engage with the person’s content by liking and writing meaningful comments consistently. Then proceed to introduce yourself, ask them about what they do and find a way to be helpful for them, or provide them an opportunity to collaborate with you. Through conversation, you’ll build strong relationships.
7. Have a follow up strategy
Networking events or messaging someone on social media can be a great way to meet someone. However, relationships are built through conversations over time. Following up and checking in with people is vital. This is one of the most difficult parts of networking. After an event, it’s vital to follow up while the connection is still hot. You should follow up 24-72 hours after you’ve met.
I keep a spreadsheet of people I’d like to follow up with. I aim to send them an email or text checking in on how they’re doing, share articles, podcasts or events they may be interested in, or engage on their recent posts. Experts say you should keep the person on your list for two years. Even if you don’t hear back from them after one email, keep following up to show your interest.
I hope these insights help you build new relationships!