Last week, my phone rang and it was a girlfriend calling me secretly from a networking event with an urgent “SOS”. “Help me! I’m not feeling it tonight. I’m exhausted, I have absolutely nothing to say, and everyone else is boring me to death!”
The scary part of this scenario is that she is a natural networker, an outrageous extrovert, and can carry on a complete conversation with a house plant. The truth is that everyone struggles or stumbles their way through a networking event at some point. It’s not easy or natural for most of us, and YES I put myself in that category.
Some people are born networkers. They can walk into a room filled with strangers, and walk out with 100 new best friends and business connections. But what about the rest of us?
By now, most people know that your “net-worth” really is measured by your “network”. “Who” you know is more valuable than what you “know” in many cases. Whether you’re seeking a promotion, looking to increase your visibility within your organization, industry, and community, or trying to grow your business and secure new clients, networking really is the key to success.
And, if you are a job seeker, then NOT networking is NOT an option. A born networker or not, it’s mandatory to network if you want to find a job.
Networking has always been, and will always be, the number one, most successful job search strategy. It has a 75-80% success rate and 90% success rate for executives…no other strategy comes close. It really is all about who you know. It’s called your “social capital”.
But what if the thought of networking causes you to break out into a sweat? What if you’re the type of person who uses every excuse in the book to not attend an event? And what if you get tongue-tied just thinking about delivering your Elevator Pitch?
Use these Top 10 Networking Tips and you’ll be networking like a pro in no time!
- Set realistic goals and expectations – you can realistically meet 3 people, not 300
- Focus on quality connections, not quantity – go deeper not broader
- Practice your Elevator Pitch and come prepared with other conversation topics (current events, sports, information about the speaker or event, etc…)
- Bring your networking tools (business cards, pen, smart phone, etc…)
- Work on developing relationships not selling yourself
- Be an active listener and ask questions
- Give referrals and be a resource
- Act like a host not a guest
- Measure your efforts and results
- Follow-up, follow-up, follow up!
Networking isn’t easy for everyone, but now you have some really helpful tips to get you started. You’ll soon realize it’s not as scary as you thought, and then you can start reaping the benefits of building and maintaining an effective network.
What is your biggest challenge when it comes to networking?
Are you an introvert?
Are you not sure what to say?
Are you struggling to find the right networking events?
Do you have any networking horror stories?
Success stories? More tips?
Let’s have a conversation about networking and demystify this activity so we can all find the joy in meeting new people and expanding our circle of influence, instead of looking for the nearest exit.
Speaking of networking…if you’re looking for an opportunity to expand your network to include other executive women in a stress-free, intimate, and fun environment, there are still a few spots left for the Chicago Women ON Point: Next Level Leadership summit on March 23-25. And, if you’d prefer more of a mountain retreat to grow your network, we’ve opened up the registration for the Beaver Creek Women ON Point: Next Level Leadership summit on October 12-14.
I look forward to networking with you soon.