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Networking: Short and Sweet

Never go into a networking event without these 4 things


I was at a conference this week and was reminded just how many networking opportunities there are! Whether you’re at a conference, scrolling LinkedIn, attending a dedicated networking session in your industry, or attending your kid’s baseball game, there are opportunities to connect and grow your network everywhere you go. 

A while back at a networking group I started for women in my area, we talked about how the word networking is scary. We don’t call events “networking” anymore, we call them meet-ups or mingles. Networking doesn’t have to be scary, though! It’s just meeting new people and building relationships with them. Here are four things to do before a networking, meet-up, or mingle. 


1) A Goal

Plan ahead--do you have something specific you want to get out of this opportunity? Are you trying to fill a position? Are you trying to get connected to a particular group, committee, or network? Are you searching for contacts in a specific profession? Are you looking for potential clients? Anticipate who will be there. Who do you want to meet? Do you have a minimum number of people you want to meet? No matter what it is, always go in with a goal. The sense of purpose will motivate you to get out there, especially if networking isn't one of your favorite things to do. Which reminds us...


2) A Smile!

You might be thinking "But it's networking. I hate networking." All the more reason to smile (with teeth, please)! Trust us--it's science. No really--remember, "You're never fully dressed without a smile!"


3) Your Business Card

Make sure you stock up before you go--you're there to meet people, and other people are there to meet you! So ask questions, introduce yourself. Find some common ground; how can you both benefit from this new relationship--can you help solve a problem? Can you do business together? Do you know someone who would benefit from a connection with your new acquaintance? It's important to connect the dots and find out more about how you can work together.


4) A Follow-up Plan

You're not done as soon as you shake hands and say "We should grab coffee sometime!" If you really want to build a connection and grow your personal network, you have to invest in that relationship and that network just like you would any other relationship. Acknowledge the connection in a meaningful way within 24 hours of meeting. HINT: You probably won't do this unless it's already on your calendar. Anytime you attend a conference or event with other professionals, block off an hour the next day in advance so you've already carved out time to follow up. 

Your follow-up could be in an email, a phone call, a request to connect on LinkedIn--anything! Just keep the relationship meaningful. Found a helpful article you think they might like? Forward the link. See an event (or class!) they might be interested in? Share it with them! Obviously you don't want to be a nuisance, but it's great to let them know you haven't forgotten about them every once in a while! 


What about you? What are your networking tips? Let us know in the comments or on social media!


Topics: Networking, Communication & Collaboration

Sinikka Waugh

About the Author

Sinikka Waugh

Sinikka Waugh is a recognized leader in understanding people and in adapting tools, techniques, and processes to meet the demands of the situation at hand. Since 2006, Sinikka has provided compassionate leadership in transformation initiatives. When she isn’t in front of a class, she enjoys putting her background in English and French Literature to work, by writing blogs about the subjects she teaches every day. Are you ready? If you are, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us!

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