Today, I had the wonderful opportunity to share with local students a really short and spirited presentation on networking. My talk covered what is networking, how does one do it and then a quick easy code word so the students could implement the talk during a career fair.
To begin, Networking what is it? According to the Google dictionary Networking is the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically: the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business.
How does one do it? When at an event, start with existing connections (it will be less scary). Locate who you want to talk to, and have a short elevator pitch ready if necessary (the art of small talk is king here to get the conversation rolling)!! Remember networking is about focusing on the person you are talking to its not about YOU! Listen to learn how you may be of service to the person you are connecting with. If you feel a connection has been made ask for their business card and then remember to follow up.
My code word for the day was B-E-S-T!
B – Breathe, easier said then done. When you breathe it relaxes you internally and allows you to think clearly. Remember the number 7. Breath in for a 7 count, hold for a 7 count and breathe out for a 7 count. repeat once or twice. When we get tense, we have a tendency to freeze up. Walking around an event remember to breath and ask yourself am I breathing.
E-Engage, a big key at networking events is to actually meet people and not hang along the wall or as one of my friend’s shared, “I would just take one spin through a room see no one I know and leave.” You have a unique opportunity every time you attend a networking event. I’d like you to think of it as an adventure. Engage at them it doesn’t hurt and it will definitely build your character. In my direct sales days we called it stepping out of your “comfort zone”. Set your thoughts on positive encounters.
S-Smile, remember (this is not to scare you) but you have only minutes, even seconds for someone to have a first impression of you. So greet everyone you meet with a smile, firm handshake and look them in the eye. Positive energy is a state of mind. Remember if you are more upbeat its easier to create a positive aura about you versus folks who are more low key or not as excitable.
T-Trust, trust yourself, you know yourself better than anyone else. Do your BEST to let the world see your positive attributes and why they need you!! Ask open ended questions. LISTEN, do not interrupt or be thinking of something else to say. Be more interested then interesting. Follow up with those company you liked best within 48 hours. I like handwritten notes these days since no one seems to do them.
During my talk we whipped through the above points in 15 minutes it was fast and furious. So in recapping our code word for the day B-E-S-T. Breathe, Engage, Smile, Trust!
Overall, before any networking event remember to set your intention for the day? What do you want to accomplish during the networking time? If we set intentions you are more likely to follow through during the event and afterwards.
Remember to do your B-E-S-T today and always!