Archive for March 2011

Networking with the Ladies at USC!   Leave a comment

What a great day! I was invited to be a guest speaker at the USC Women’s Conference and share tips about networking and how I’ve used it in developing my career and growing my business. I met lots of wonderful ladies, had a delicious lunch and enjoyed a beautiful day at my alma mater!

As promised to all of you who sat in on my sessions, here is a recap of my networking tips:

  • Contrary to popular belief, networking is NOT about going to “networking events” and telling people what you do like you’re a used car salesman then leaving with a pocketful of cards. What networking IS about is developing relationships with the people you come in contact with so that you end up with a network of people that you know, and that know you, and when an opportunity comes up for either of you, you are top of mind.
  • In order to build those relationships you need to put yourself out there – in person and with a presence on the internet. You really need to do BOTH. These days, one without the other is not going to work effectively.
  • Build your profile on LinkedIn and Facebook – it’s really not hard to do. Trust me, if I can do it anyone can! But if it’s really too much, hire a student and have them do it for you – DONE!
  • Research, visit and join associations that serve the industry that you are interested in. Attend a meeting. See what it’s about and if you like the people. Do you feel welcome? Remember, EVERYBODY is in the same boat at these things. They’re all there to meet new people and make connections – and nobody likes doing it. Here are some tips to make it a little easier:
  • Make eye contact with people and smile! You’ll be much more approachable.
  • Don’t forget to pop that breath mint! Nothing will foil your efforts faster than a waft of last night’s garlic bread!
  • Look for people who look like they’re uncomfortable and introduce yourself. They’ll love you for it. Then introduce them to someone else you’ve already met. They will remember you and be very grateful for it. This also helps me because when I’m focusing on helping other people I forget that I’m anxious.
  • Be natural and genuine. Let your personality come through. Forget that you just met these people and act like you’ve been friends for a while. You’ll find those barriers melt away.
  • When you’re sitting at a table, pull out a chunk of your business cards and pass them to the person next to you. That will start everyone passing their cards around and soon you will know everyone who is seated at your table and what they do.
  • Focus on learning about other people more than giving your spiel. If you learn about them then you will build a basis for a relationship. It will make it easier to follow-up because you can recall something that you learned about them (write these little tidbits down on their business card so you won’t forget them!)
  • Follow up! I follow-up with everyone by email. Those that I particularly liked or felt I would like to have in my personal network I ask if they’d like to meet for coffee to learn a little more about each other and see if there is an opportunity to help each other down the road.
  • You can further your relationship with people by contacting them on LinkedIn and Facebook. Ask to connect. When they respond then you will each receive updates on each other and it’s yet another way to stay in touch.
  • And finally, your ultimate goal with networking is to build your network of people and use face-to-face contacts and social networking to maintain a presence so that people when opportunities arise YOU will be the person they think of first.

So, pop a breath mint, go out there and have FUN with it! I wish you the best!

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