|How funky is this business card? Go on and get creative!
Photo Courtesy of Coolest Business Card.com
Because I just moved somewhere new, I’m trying to meet people. I want to do this so I can make friends, play dates, engage in my hobbies and for professional reasons as well.
Whatever your reason, we all should be networking. It’s time to shed the mentality that we ‘don’t need to’ or maybe you’re a SAHM and think it’s only for people in the ‘professional’ world. This couldn’t be further from the truth!
Did you know networking was originally intended so that we can help others, not the other way around? Perhaps we need to shift our focus to this and we can become better at networking. My point is, get out there and meet some peeps!
Because I have a degree in the entertainment industry, I was actually taught how to network in college. Here are some of my dos on becoming a better net worker:
- Listen, listen and listen. When you approach someone, you’re there to find out who they are and what they’re all about- professionally and otherwise. Don’t start out with a “hi, this is what I do, what do you do for a living.” This is phony and it comes off as speed date-y. Ask them questions about what interests them and build off of that. People like to talk about themselves, so listen up and be slow to speak.
- Before you give your business card to them, ask for theirs first (after chatting with them for a bit of course). This will seem more sincere and less likely to scare them away. We already talked about getting business cards no matter what you do for a living, so use them!
- Make eye contact. ‘Nuff said.
- Follow up when you say you will. Even if you say you’ll be in touch in a few weeks, do that. There is something to be said for following through with what you say you’ll do.
- Wear something that stands out. If nothing else, they’ll remember you by that alone. You can even put that in your follow-up email, “I was the one wearing that funky scarf you commented on.” I find that this is also a conversation piece. I once had a woman approach me because she liked my big earrings. We got to talking and she worked in film too- small world!
Now the donts and common misconceptions that are associated with networking:
- Common mistake #1- You have to be an outgoing person to network. Wrong. Most people are completely aware that we live in a society that’s all about who ya know, not what ya know. It’s 100% acceptable to strike up a conversation with someone even if you’re not at a networking event (but especially if you are!).
- Common mistake #2- You have to be a professional career woman/man to ‘network’ and have business cards. No. SAHMs and college students should always have their own cards. What if your kiddo meets someone at the playground that they really get along with? Give the Mama your card and ask if they’d like to do a play-date sometime. Go on, exit your comfort zone, you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised. I totally have a very good friend who I met at a Bed Bath and Beyond. True story.
- Common mistake #3- You need to network up. This is the most common misconception in my opinion. Don’t ignore your peers. They’re going to be somewhere else one day and it might be sooner than you think. It’s not fair to discount people on where they’re at now. You don’t always have to be hitting it off with a CEO of a Fortune 500 company. At my last job I was the internship coordinator, and I always made sure I treated my interns fairly and helped them whenever I could. They weren’t just there to fetch my lattes, they were nice people and I may need their help one day as well.