Networking has, over the past couple of decades, become something of a buzzword. It’s schmoozing with less emphasis on selling something, and it’s socializing with a professional slant. Sometimes it’s fun, and sometimes it’s painful. But it’s always important – even more so for women.
Often women take time off from careers to care for children or family. Women sometimes make less over their careers for a variety of reasons. Knowing people in your field – or even in your community, no matter the field – can be crucial for getting back into the workforce, moving up in your career, switching careers, and finding out about opportunities that are more “word of mouth” than a normal job ad or event listing.
Here are four of our top networking tips – because if you’re going to talk to strangers, you should definitely have a plan!
Network with Intention
Meeting lots of new people is great, but if you’re networking with a specific goal in mind – new job, new volunteer opportunities, moving to a new city – it can be overwhelming. Focus on what you want and set goals for yourself, like making 10 new LinkedIn connections a week. And always carry a card – you never know when you’ll be in the grocery store line next to a potential connection and have a conversation about avocados that leads to a job offer (true story)!
Have an “elevator speech”
This doesn’t mean you have to have a canned sales pitch, but a good 2-3 sentence description of your work, who you are, what you’re looking for, and why you’re at an event or connecting with someone on an individual basis takes a lot of the stress of meeting new people away and gives you an instant connection you can build on in the conversation.
My grandmother told me that you should never leave a party without sneaking off to the restroom at some point in the evening, writing a personalized thank you card, and dropping it in the host’s mailbox on the way out. That may be a bit excessive at a networking event, but a follow up note or email to anyone whose card you collected is a great way to develop and maintain relationships – plus, it’s easy to throw in a personal touch. “Hello Ms. Awesomelady, this is Amber. We met at Thatawesomeevent last night, and I wanted to say how lovely it was to meet you and see the pictures of your 7 Basset Hounds. I’d love to talk more to you about thatawesomethingyoutalkedabout – and maybe a doggie playdate soon!”
Attend networking events that appeal to you personally and professionally
It’s a lot easier to network with people you like and have a good time while doing it at events that are appealing to you professionally – whether they’re industry specific events or events for a large group of people, like women’s events – and personally. You wouldn’t go to a snake petting networking event for zookeepers if you were a real estate agent and afraid of snakes, right? Go back to #1 and apply that to events. Attend events with intention – the intention to have a good time while making some great connections!
Fish and Associates is hosting a networking event on June 8th with Wise Women (net)Working – a group for professional women in Memphis in any field or industry – called “Choose Your Own Adventure: Your Money, Your Life.” It’s like a giant game of Life meets R.L. Stine (except that one at the carnival no thank you do not want) with wine! Check out Wise Women (net)Working on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and we hope to see you at this event!
(We don’t have a mailbox, but we’d love to hear from you the next day too to set up all those doggie play dates!)