Four Tips For The Novice Networker
During any professional meet-up event, you’ll have approximately 10 seconds to garner the interest of and capture the full attention of important people. If you handle the initial meet well, this will give you enough leverage to later engage with your new contacts. A good 10-second execution at an event helps in your quest to be positively noticed and taken seriously.
In today’s highly saturated market crawling with fierce competitors, networking is the most beneficial way to connect without a resume or profile. For self-made professionals who are attempting to build a foundation from the ground up, events can be used advantageously in your efforts to shine! Always keep in mind you’ll have one opportunity to make the entire room, one by one, remember you positively. Because I made numerous mistakes during important professional meet-ups, I developed four simple tips to help newbies understand the foundation of networking success:
1. Don a confidence crown
In order to remain confident in a room full of people, it’s crucial to love the way you look. Wear something you feel confident, powerful, and comfortable in, and that is suitable for the occasion. Because I put tremendous pressure on myself, and failed to wear the correct attire several times, I made numerous retreats into the restroom in order to regain my confidence. Retreating is acceptable when necessary, however, in order to gear yourself up for proactivity (and eventually prosperity), you must begin by centering internally. This starts with fighting the urge to leave your home or office without being 100% satisfied with your appearance.
2. Scope out the room
Before working a full room, I regularly pick a place inside and scope (discreetly) for 5-10 minutes. Your goal is to zero in on a target that can serve as a warm up before you begin effectively networking. Your warm up should be someone who is as happy and just as excited to be there, as you. If this person isn’t present, warm up with a staff member or waiter instead. Although the staff isn’t there to network, it’s a good opportunity to hear yourself speak and calm the jitters without the pressure of making a lasting bad impression. Unless you’re an avid networker, refrain from jumping right in before building your momentum and confidence.
3. Be EPIC
Think EPIC: eye contact, positioning, intensity, and charisma. Make sure your eye contact is killer and stand up straight with your hands folded in front of you. Although this is standard, it's a friendly reminder to those who quickly lose their confidence while engaging with a difficult target. Be sure to keep your intensity level in check, (between medium and high) in order to convey your message clearly and effectively. If you’re naturally charismatic use it to your advantage, and if not substitute it with another strong quality. Always keep EPIC in mind while you’re networking with important people you wish to connect with.
4. Be resilient
Before taking the plunge into any networking event, remember to center on your resilience. Keep in mind every target will present unique and exciting challenges, and perceived rejection can be difficult to field then and there. It’s ultimately up to you to bounce back and move on quickly from any uncomfortable interactions you might face. There is an opportunity to connect with numerous other people in the same room, so move on and keep it together. Never allow one less than perfect engagement to disrupt your confidence and focus.
Now that you’ve survived the event, it’s time to follow up. After attending (and surviving!), I regularly reach out to contacts that I exchanged information with the next morning via email and LinkedIn. Your message should add value, and include brief highlights of the conversation you shared. The subject line is important, so remember to spend a decent amount of time customizing subject lines for each follow-up that you send. No matter what occurs during the follow up phase, remember to stay positive, consistent, and on-message. Always be yourself in these connection efforts, and take appropriate cues from replies while remaining patient and optimistic.
Jamilla Ali is a native New Yorker and graduate of Saint Francis College in Brooklyn, New York. Jamilla previously worked at a boutique branding agency in Dubai, United Arab Emirates where she was responsible for all new client business development efforts. Prior to Jamilla’s experience in Dubai, she was a writer for various startup blogs catered to the underground hip hop music scene and cultural activities in and around the New York City area. Jamilla continues to pursue multiple disciplines and aspires to write a book documenting her life changing experiences at home and abroad.