What do you think when I say the word ‘networking’ to you? Do you cringe, try and get out of the event…. Now days, you would assume all networking is done online.. Social media, linked in, Facebook…even on Instagram I have picked up clients! To some people, networking face to face comes naturally.
Although an extrovert, I was NOT one of those people. Luckily, I went to a few networking events when I studied my post-grad. One of my favourite networking events was speed networking. Five minutes to give a business pitch/intro and get a card IF interested. Loved it. Done, dusted.
Although you would think this is effective… let me be honest. It wasn’t. Five minutes, to elevator pitch your business or what you do at work… great to boost your confidence talking to strangers, not so great to build connections. Let me tell you how to ease your way into networking and why it’s crucial for your career!
1. It opens the doors you wouldn’t necessarily be exposed to at work.
2. Ummm… the obvious… it broadens your network and can link you to other roles you may never knew existed.
3. That 6-degree of separation is a real thing. Add them on linked in and see your shared connections (I can guarantee you have some.)
4. You may gain clients and business opportunities through these networks.
5. They may see something in you your boss or even YOURSELF doesn’t see. But in order for this to happen, you have to put yourself out there girl.
So how do you build that confidence to go to your first networking event? Well firstly, see if there is anything through work you could go to? A sporting event, volunteer event….educational or training event? That way you may know a friendly face whilst you’re there. (NB, If you’re looking for a new job then this MAY not be the way to go! Semi-awkward.)
Go to websites such as Eventbrite – scroll through your interests – there are COUNTLESS of events on there. Also, Facebook is an amazing way to connect with like-minded people. (Have you liked our page yet??)
For your first few events go with a girlfriend. But make sure you don’t stick to each other like super-glue. Branch out, read peoples name tags – and target the people that can most be a benefit to you and your career.
Join in a round circle, squeeze on in and introduce yourself. Of course, apologise for interrupting.
MOST IMPORTANTLY, Have your pitch PERFECTED. When I started networking. I would muck it up 10-fold.
“Hi I’m Elise, I run workitgirl.com.au.”“
“Oh what’s that?” They would ask…
“It’s an online job website for women in the workforce….. crickets**
Errr…. HOW does this benefit anyone? How can I make money off of that pitch? How can I HELP these people from that sentence??? What is my point of difference? I would walk away deflated.
Damn girl, I had to get that pitch perfected. So many lost opportunities because my pitch wasn’t down. That was probably my most valuable takeaway.
To which, I urge you to perfect before you enter the room. What do you want to get out of this event? Why give up your precious time if you aren’t going to make the most of this next hour and a half. Now, I research what I am going to and my audience.
“Hi, I’m Elise, I run an online recruitment business. We specialize in placing women into work. We also do candidate coaching and consulting.”
Bamn. Pitch perfected. Now your turn!
Many jobs ARE NOT advertised and it can come through connections and as well, through recruiters.
Yes, it’s a daunting experience and in actual fact, it sometimes does NOT get any easier. But to broaden your network, I urge you to take the leap. Because you don’t know who you will meet. If not your next boss, colleague or business partner…maybe even your husband! Ha, who knows? But it’s always a great thought. It happened to my girlfriend you know!
Oh and if you haven’t already registered as a candidate or want to share this article. Please do – more gals in our tribe the better for the workplace!
Xoxo Work it girl