Is networking part of your job? I have been working hard on making networking easier because it’s not always a natural thing for me. Networking shows up for me in my job in a varity of ways.
In my marketing job I network in online groups, one-on-one with referrals sent my way, and in person in my local community.
In my direct sales job I network with other direct sellers, with customers, and with anyone I happen to run into that comments on my nails! 🤩
I’m not always comfortable with networking, especially in person, but I have found a few great tips to help me show up more confident and get better results. I thought I’d share a few of them with you!
Networking in person and online are different so I’ve put my tips together for both!
In Person Networking
In person networking spans a wide variety of activities. This could be a larger busines networking event like a Chamber of Commerce meeting or BNI. It could also include one-on-ones like coffee dates. Networking doesn’t always have to be a big event.
Have a Set of Questions Prepped
In any sized event, it can feel tempting to talk more about ourselves than to ask questions. However, asking questions can be an easier way to feel comfortable in a networking situation. Having some questions ready to go can help you break the ice and get the ball rolling. Sample questions could include:
❓ What do you do?
❓ Are you from here?
❓ What’s your favorite part of your job?
❓ How did you get into ________?
You could also add in questions that will lead to things you know you’re interested in to make it easier to carry on the conversation.
❓ Did you hear the story on _______?
❓ Have you tried out the new restaurant ________?
❓ What’s the biggest challenge you see facing ________?
Remember that asking questions and listening help you get to know someone and make them feel special. It also helps you understand if the conversation is worth continuing and if you want to follow up.
Check the RSVP List
If possible, check the RSVP list. This way you can make a list of people you want to connect with. Knowing you have people you want to connect with can make you feel more comfortable and not hiding against the back wall!
If you can’t see who’s RSVP’d, then reach out to your contacts that you know are attending or the person organizing the event. Let them know who you’re hoping to connect with and that you’re excited to be there. That way they can introduce you to the right people in the room and help you start conversations without anxiety.
Have a Specific Call-To-Action
Yes, you do a lot in your business, or you have a lot to offer someone in support of their business. It can sometimes be overwhelming telling people what you do and how you can support them. Try and have one or two action items that you’re looking to promote. Once you follow up after the event you’ll have the opportunity to share ALL the goodness.
Do Your Research
Building a personal connection with someone can really help you stand out amongst the others that the person might be networking with. Some may call this “social stalking” 😂 but I prefer to call it research.
Look for things you migh have in common! Locations you both have lived, colleges or areas of study, or mutual connections. LinkedIn is my favorite location for this.
Practice Your Elevator Pitch
Virtual events are typically faster paced. Have your elevator pitch ready to go. This could be a bit about yourself, your business, or the types of connections you’re hoping to make. Remember to focus on the main type of connection you’re trying to make at the event. It’s not always going to be the same, pay attention to the type of event or attendees to determine the right pitch.
Set up Your Space
If possible, create a background for your video that can include some branding elements. This will reinforce who you are. How often do you find that you heard someone’s intro and couldn’t remember the details? If you’re anything like me then it’s every time! Depending on the platform you could create a background image that includes your brand and contact information.
If you can’t, or don’t want to, do that, then make sure your physical space is clean and not too busy!
Lighting and sound also come in to play here. Set up yourself professionally so people have immediate trust in you. This doesn’t mean expensive equipment. Use headphones to avoid an echo or feedback. Find a room with good lighting. Wear clothes that aren’t too busy and distracting, but that you feel comfortable and confident in.
Regardless of if its online or in person, doing a little prep work can help you feel more confident with the event and ensure that you get the results you want out of the event. Always remember that you never know what conversations may lead to what so go in with an open mind!
Want to dive deeper? Here are some additional resources you might find helpful.
Episode 8: Building Authentic Connections with Chelsea Callicott
[podcast] Build Better Relationships with Networking | Digital Marketing Therapy