Feel the fear and network anyway
Networking is king or so the saying goes. We’ve already given you our top tips for networking like a boss, even when it makes you feel like the new kid at school in September, but now we’re going deeper. If you’re going to feel the fear and network anyway, you’re going to need to put in the prep work ahead of time. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail and all that. Here’s how to make sure you’re all set to smash your first networking event, all with a little leg work.
STEP 1 – EYE UP YOUR EVENT
We’ve said it before; all networking events are not created equal. Find the right one for you and you’ll find your tribe too. The local chamber might be the place to be for business advice but if your field is creative, all those corporate slideshows and grey suits might not stimulate much in the way of creative juices or work referrals.
STEP 2 – DRESS THE PART
Now, about those grey suits. We left ours behind with the 9 to 5pm but that doesn’t mean we don’t know how to dress the part when the occasion insists. Networking like a pro is all about being comfortable and proving you know your stuff but swapping your favourite Stranger Things hoodie for a smart jumper will make you look the part as well.
STEP 3 – BUSINESS CARDS AT THE READY
Remember we told you to that getting business cards printed had a knack of making you feel like you’re living your best life? Well, now’s your chance to let them do their thing. Make sure you’ve got some good to go in your back pocket and don’t be afraid to hand them out here, there and everywhere. You never know who they might end up with.
STEP 4 – IT ISN’T ALL ABOUT YOU
When the nerves kick in, it’s easy to turn into a rambling lunatic who waxes lyrical about themselves but forgets to show any interest in anyone else. We get it, it’s a defence mechanism. Do some research before your first networking event and have an ice breaker or two in mind. Don’t steam straight in with the business jargon or sales pitch either; show some interest in what they do and build some rapport.
STEP 5 – MAKE NOTES
Business cards are all well and good but a sea of names, phone numbers and social media handles tend to blur into one after the stress of networking. Make notes on each one, just a line about what they do will help you be way more specific in your follow up emails.
STEP 6 – FOLLOW UP
Which leads us to our final step; the follow up. Networking ain’t easy and there’s no point putting yourself through it if you’re going to let all those new contacts vanish into obscurity with nothing but a business card left behind to remember them by. Leave it a day or so, then hit them with a follow-up email saying how great it was to meet them and focusing on something specific you discussed.
Looking for a networking event with a difference to ease you in gently? Join us for Helm’s Doncaster.Digital Meet Up on the last Tuesday of every month. There’s pizza and beer, plus a whole lot of inspiration from some of the best creative minds around.