Let’s talk networking. If you’re anything like me, you actually hate ‘controlled networking,’ as in networking events. Most times when you go to these events, everyone’s dressed up and on their best behavior in hopes of connecting with ‘super-connects’ that would change their lives. It all seems a bit unnatural if you ask me, and sort of forced. In some cases, you’ll have some genuine connections, and in others it’ll be more office banter than true link up.
For example, I attended one of the Powerful Women’s Weekend events and there was a portion of the event where the coordinators instructed us to flip over our programs (there was a blank list on the back of the program where you got the contact info of 5 people you met at the event) and mix and mingle to fill the page. Most of the conversations I encountered after that went something like this:
Them: Hey how are you?
Me: I’m great how are you?
Them: I’m good *hands me program* here write your info down, what do you do?
Me: I’m a full time student and aspiring entrepreneur, you?
Them: I do blah, blah, blah
Me: Oh ok that sounds cool *attempts to continue a convo*
Them: Nice to meet you. Let me go finish getting this paper filled out
Me: *Thinking emoji*
Yeaaaaa so networking really isn’t my cup of tea, but I know how to make it work when I need to. So here are a few of my best tips that just may help you get through those networking events. (Since I’ve been to lots of networking events and have been involved in them in many different capacities)
So you get dressed in your best professional business or business casual outfit and you head to a networking mixer. You walk in the door and you see lots of local pros mingling and chatting. (Grab a drink, you’ll need it lol) Where do you start? What’s your first move? How do you make this as lucrative as possible?
Tip #1: Dress comfortable but keep it professional
We’ve all heard it before, Dress the part. While it is important to dress “professionally,” whatever that means to you, it is also important that you are comfortable. The last thing you want to be worried about while you’re out here trying to get your ‘connects’ up is rolling spanks and too tight shoes. So dress to impress, minus the stress. The goal is to stay focused on meeting new people in your field.
Whether it’s business cards, flyers, sample merch or digital contact flyers, always be prepared. In a lot of cases, if you’re really serious about linking with the person, you may exchange numbers right then and there. In other cases, makes sure you have your info ready to exchange
Tip #3: Don’t force it
You are not obligated to talk to every single person present at the event. There may be time constraints or you may meet someone that you get caught talking to for a while because you all connect. Here’s my thing, I operate in vibes and energy a lot of the time. Sometimes I meet people and our energies connect and the networking is natural. But there are times when I’ve run into people who ‘s vibe and energy were just wrong or bad or forced…. In cases like that, I remove myself. Like I said, there’s no obligation to chat it up with everyone
Tip #4: It’s about RELATIONSHIPS
Level the playing field in your mind. Everyone at the networking event is there to ‘gain’ in one way or another. Your talent is just as important as the person standing next to you. You want to build relationships with people so that there can be a constant exchange of information and ideas. Don’t be a user…. Nobody likes a user. You’ll fall in that category if you only hit people up when you need them. Check ins are cool….. but that’s only if you’re interested in cultivating that relationship
Tip #5: Have your pitch ready for connecting after the event
Ok so you’ve met some great people at the networking event. You all exchanged information….now what? Now you shoot your shot (if it feels right). You express your interest in connecting, you spill out your best pitch, and you possibly invite them out for lunch or what Myleik Teele’s bestfriend Kevin likes to call “Curious Coffee” and pick their brains about ideas, advice, etc. At this point it’s up to you to make it do what it do. Never be afraid to shoot your shot.
And of course, when all else fails, let it flow. I always remind myself that if its meant to be, it’ll be. Don’t beat yourself up if you leave the networking event with a pocket full of business cards connected to some not so helpful people….. ish happens!