Networking. This is by far one of my biggest challenges as a blogger. It is something I struggle with, & that I have to constantly work at. But because networking is important in almost every profession, it is something that I am determined to master. I think it is such an important part of this Blogging 101 series, & judging from the snapchat poll (username: brett_robson) you were interested in Networking as a topic too.
Being surrounded by like-minded individuals is an amazing feeling. I love to chat to people & find out what they’re up to; share what I am doing; chat about common interests etc. However, I don’t find it very easy to talk to people that I am not familiar with. As I mentioned above, networking is something I struggle with, but I am getting better. Today, I am going to share with you, a few of the things that have helped me improve my networking skills at events, & in life in general.
Introduce yourself: This is a tough one, because I know how it feels to walk up to someone, introduce yourself, & then have them brush you off. But, it is essential if you are going to overcome your networking fears. I like to set a goal for myself at events. I put a number to the amount about people I want to introduce myself to. Start small, even just 1 person. If I am introducing myself to someone I have no clue about, I introduce myself & then ask about who they are & what they do. If I am introducing myself to someone I know of, or know via social media then I try to engage with them in a less formal way; perhaps bring up a recent post they did, or something you bonded over on social media. But, no matter who it is, you always want to make sure that you look them in eye when you speak, & be sincere about the introduction.
You can totally network on the internet: I meet more people on Twitter or Instagram than I do in real life. True story. I have made many business connections with people I started talking to on the net. Our generation is so comfortable with technology that it almost seems quite normal. While I love this method as a way to either meet or get to know people – I do still believe that interacting with people in person is even better. So, if you find someone that you connect with on social media; & you see them at an event, then you better put your big girl pants on & say hello.
**If you do choose to set up a meet with someone you’ve ‘met’ on social media; please be sure to do it in a public place, & always either take a friend with or tell someone the details of the meeting. And only if you are of age. Ok.
Learn to let go of those you know: At events, it’s so easy to cling to your friends or the people you are familiar with. I get that it’s more comfortable (an much easier) to stick with your clique. But you could be missing out on some great connections by not networking with people outside of your circle. As I mentioned above, even if you set a teeny tiny goal of talking to 1 new person – it could make a world of difference. At certain beauty events, it’s pretty much the same bunch of beauty editors & bloggers. I used to feel so awkward & uncomfortable. But I found that when I opened myself up to talking to one person; it opened the door to talking to three other people. And now when I see those ladies, I feel like I’m seeing friends I haven’t seen in a while.
Business Cards: This is a funny one. Some people will tell you the importance of business cards. And others will tell you that it’s a waste of your money. What do I think? Well… I have 3 business cards. My professional aka career business card is very important for when I am in meetings abroad; or attending fairs. Then, for SHOP BRETT ROBSON I have a card, but it’s really an info card that I keep on me at all times in case I come across someone who doesn’t know the online store, & maybe doesn’t have IG. I find it has been really helpful in that way. As a blogger, I have a card…& to be very very honest – it’s been a waste. I have probably given that card out 20 times in 2 years. Shocking but true. However, it’s mostly because the average person is on social media & the conversation is generally like ‘Hey, what’s your Twitter handle?’ Business cards can be cute, but don’t be like me sitting with 480/500 business cards you don’t actually give out.
Alcohol: I drink alcohol. Not at all ashamed of the fact that I drink. And yes I know that not everyone drinks alcohol. But if you do, I suggest you pay attention to this point. At events, there is almost always going to be champagne, wine or a cocktail. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with having a drink. However, if you know you’re light on juice – have one drink. And even if you don’t easily get drunk/tipsy – set a limit for yourself anyway, because trust me – the people who invited you are watching. And even worse, you DO NOT BY ANY MEANS want to get drunk. I was once at an over night event where a blogger got so drunk she kept lifting her legs up when dancing – in a dress. The next morning, it was an unfortunate topic of discussion. You don’t want to be that girl.
Be interested & Pay attention: Don’t be the person who starts a conversation withs someone just so you can cut them off & talk about yourself. That’s rude. Show some interest, & be sincere. I know that the point of networking is to share info about who you are/what you do, but pay attention to the person you’re talking to as well. If you aren’t sure about something the person has mentioned, then ask them to elaborate. Don’t be shy. It shows that you’re actually listening, & hearing what they are saying. Also, don’t brag. Nobody likes a show-off.
Tweet, Tag or Email your new connections: So you’ve made some new connections at an event, what next? Well, in my experience it’s great if you send a follow up tweet or mail. Keep it short & sweet – you don’t want them to think you’re weird. And if you post a picture that you’re new connection is in, be sure to tag them.
These are just a few of the things I do, & that have helped me overcome my fears. I am really an introvert on most days. And by no means am I comfortable around strangers. It really does take a lot of effort for me. So, if you’re like me & you think you can’t do it – you can. Take baby steps towards your networking goals.