Hello SOTGC community,
If you are new to networking, it can seem a bit intimidating at first, but know that there is nothing to fear. Networking gives you a chance to make yourself known in your industry, meet career-focused people, and build your business connections. It can also help improve your confidence and allow you to clearly define and focus more on your strengths.
Haven’t been able to quite dive head first into the networking scene? Here are a few things to keep in mind to get you started:
You are not alone. You will not be the only newbie. If walking around a room full of strangers armed with business cards is not your idea of a good time, invite a friend or colleague to join you. Set yourself a goal to talk to at least three new people at every event. Having trouble breaking the ice? A simple introduction and smile go a long way.
Be prepared. Make sure your business cards and your LinkedIn page are updated. Even if you are not actively job searching, you want to exude professionalism and have the correct pieces put into place should an opportunity arise.
Networking is not the same as interviewing. Do make a great first impression, but understand that no one expects you to give a list of your credentials or demonstrate your skill level on the spot. Networking gives you the opportunity to connect with companies and individuals that interest you. Don’t pigeonhole yourself to only one industry. You never know what kind of collaborations can occur when you branch out.
Quality over quantity. It’s great to talk to as many people as possible, but don’t be discouraged if you do not get a follow-up from every single person. The biggest networking events I’ve been to have typically resulted in only one or two actual connections, but they have been valuable, and I have continued a business relationship with them beyond the event.
Follow up. If you’d like to reach out to someone from the networking event, send them a follow-up email. Be specific as to where you met them and what you discussed to refresh their memory. If it seems relevant, suggest a meet-up or phone call to discuss future projects.
Be patient. Relationships of any kind take time to cultivate, even business ones! If you reach out to someone and do not immediately hear back, feel good about the connection you made and the engagement you initiated. Then, take these positive feelings and let them guide you when you attend your next event.
Networking can be one of your greatest tools when building your brand and buzz about your business. It may not come as easily to you as other people, but don’t let that deter you to show up and showcase what makes you great.
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