The first networking event I attended was an experience to say the least. The event itself was fun and the food at the restaurant was great, but I was the one off my game. I was a little frightened, I can’t lie! Walking in and seeing all of those people and not knowing one person seemed scary! I am usually never scared when it comes to meeting new people but this time felt different. This was around the time when I first decided to throw my hand at real estate investing, the blog was only 6 or 7 months old, and I had just started my new job. I didn’t know what I had to offer to a fellow professional besides good conversation and great smelling breath (I ate breath mints all night due to nervousness)! I was a shell of myself that day. I am very outgoing but for some reason I had my very rare introvert side come visit. I was determined to have a better outing the next event I attended! That first event turned out to be ok, but it was definitely a learning experience! After the first event, the second networking event went well and gave me the confidence to roll into my next event with ease! I became a networking pro with many hiccups along the way.
So with The Talented 6 having thrown our first professional’s networking event last week, here are a few tips for the average millennial who have either never been to a networking event or who may have been like me when I attended my first event, frightened! These five tips will help you dive deep into your networking bag! This that special networking cloth talk! TELL EM AGAIN DJ KHALED.....
1). People Go to Networking Events to Network
Profound, right? The definition of Networking is “to interact with other people to exchange information and develop contacts, especially to further one’s career”. One thing I forgot my first networking event is that people come with the intentions to meet new people. I am 99% sure they read the same flyer you read! They are there to talk and meet other professionals. So don’t overthink or second guess yourself about going over to introducing yourself, THEY WANT TO TALK TO YOU! If they didn’t want to talk to you, would they have come? Men, don’t worry about approaching women and getting caught up in the, “I don’t want her to think I’m flirting with her” idea. I am 97% sure that most women at these types of events won’t think that unless…… you are actually flirting with her. Keep it professional and listen, you won't have any problems connecting with anyone!
2). Don’t Drink Too Much
Never drink too much at these events. These events are tagged as “professional” for a reason. My rule (after learning the hard way and having to call it a night earlier than expected) is one drink per hour and in the last hour, maybe two. This tip is really about knowing your limit. Even if you aren’t drunk, the heavy smell of alcohol could give people the wrong first impression. Drinking is 100% fine but you don’t want to get so drunk to where you are saying things you don’t mean, (or you actually do mean) and ruining potential business relationships. Find your drinking niche and stick to it. Networking events is where you are building potential relationships important to your career choice or passion, not where you turn up!
3). Follow Up
Always, Always, Always follow up with the business cards you collect that have value to you! Even though you may not be able to work with them right now, still follow up! It takes about five minutes to write an email or text saying the following:
“It was great connecting with you at the networking event! I will be in touch, as I am looking for liked minded professionals to build with. Thanks for the business card and the great conversation.
Talk to you soon! – Ben H”
That email/text could go a long way. This quick message will let them know that you are serious and may open up future doors just because you're looking to connect. People appreciate little things like this, it makes you memorable. So when they are looking for a partner or may have a business venture that suites someone of your background, they may remember you from this tiny act! Also, for all the people who are thinking, “I gave them my business card too, shouldn’t they hit my line!” Yes, that is true! They could email or text you first, but why wouldn’t you? We could point the finger at the other person every time in every facet of our lives but that doesn’t help us at all. Focus on how you can potentially help yourself by doing this! Again, one email or text like this could go a long way!
4). Connect with the Host:
Find out whoever is throwing the event and connect with them. They are a professional just like you. Tell them what you think about the event, thank them for having the event and find out when the next event is happening! Connect with this person like you would with anyone else. If you have a vision for a potential collaboration, do a quick pitch, get their business card and follow up with an email. Regardless of the outcome, this is a good practice. The host has connections to most of the people at the networking event whether it’s personal or just an email address. If your vision is aligned with something that involves having connections, then this would be a great tip to implement at the next networking event you attend!
5). Set Goals
Setting goals with everything you do is a great habit, why should networking be any different? Instead of sitting down at the event all night, challenge yourself by making S.M.A.R.T goals. (Smart, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) Whether it's to hand out ten business cards before the last hour, receive ten business cards within the first two hours, connect with a certain type of professional or even if it's only to stir up conversation with three different people. Set some goals that will help you become more comfortable networking. After the event, go back to those goals (hopefully you wrote them down) and see what you did and didn’t do. Hold yourself accountable! Learn from that last experience, so the next time around you set better goals and accomplish them!
There you have it, #NetworkSZN (I am not sure what "SZN" means when you put it behind the word “network” but I see other people use it and it looks cools so there it is!) Use these tips on your first or next networking event! I cannot stress enough how important these tips are when you’re out networking! Gon head and brush ya shoulders off, as you are becoming a networking pro!