Should I walk up to them first? Do I call them? Should they email me? What should I say? Was I too aggressive? First dates may be this complicated, but networking shouldn’t be. It’s 2016, and if you’re looking to excel in your current career, find a new career, or grow a business, networking is unavoidable. I’m a member of Introverts Anonymous who is almost complete with the seven step program to networking, and below are some quick tips I’ve learned while easing into networking.
- Create a schedule of events: You can do this on a weekly or monthly basis. If you create a list of events and place them in your calendar you’re more likely to attend. Eventbrite, Meetup, and LEVO are a few sites that post great events.
- Find a networking buddy: This can be an advantage and a disadvantage. If you attend an event with a friend, make sure you actually separate to accomplish your goal of networking.
- Join an association or committee: Check out this directory of Houston associations. I’ve current joined LEVO Houston as the Co-Leader, and the role as a consistent member gives me more confidence. There are a lot of associations with a small membership fee and access to events.
- Don’t overthink it: Remember most people in the room are there for the same purpose as you. Unless you see Jennifer Lopez or Brad Pitt there is no need to sweat.
- Keep business cards handy: Of course you’re going to have business cards with you, but keep them in your pocket or a small compartment in your purse.
- Try speed networking: Speed Networking is a less intimidating format for those who aren’t a fan of traditional networking. Attendees are given one minute to share information about their business to each other.
- Make it personal: Although people associate networking with business, don’t hesitate to find out more about who you’re talking to. I just came from an event tonight where I spent most of my time discussing adoption with an attendee. Find a subject/interest that you both connect on.
- Take a break if you need to: Don’t worry about the rules that say you have to go to x amount of networking events a week, month or quarter. Start off in your comfort zone and gradually increase the frequency based on your business goals.
What tips do you follow for a successful networking event?