"Be networking always." - Lauren Myers, Cornell '97
Very few days or weeks go by when a millenial woman, whether in or out of college, is not invited to a "networking event." Networking "is a yuppie euphemism for kissing ass in order to get a job or promotion." - Urban Dictionary That's a very blunt, but correct way to put it. Your network is your networth and it is important to maximize it.
Here are 10 ways to maximize a networking event/luncheon/conversation with a random person you meet on the street and want to be like when you grow up.
- Have a goal for the networking event. Who do you need to meet? What connections do you want to make? What information are you trying to find out?
- Do your research ahead of time! Know who you who will be in the room, who you want to talk to and what points you need to raise.
- Develop your elevator speech. This is a 30 second to a 1 minute introduction and should convey who you are and what you're about or interested in to whomever you may be speaking to. Depending on the situation it may be just an opener to conversation or it might be the only chance you have to make an impression. Write it down. Practice it. Perfect it. Pitch yourself well.
- Dress the for the job you want, not the job you have.
- Step outside of your comfort zone! The people you meet at these events want to help you, mentor you, or be a resource. TALK to them.
- Ask for a business card and offer your own. Even though technology plays a major role in keeping up relationships these days, business cards are still around! Design your own. Carry them with you. Give them out.
- Follow up! Send a thank you note, write a thank you email. I can't tell you how many times professionals I meet tell me millenials forget to do this. It's important and WILL set you apart.
- Seek out people who can be mentors versus sponsors. Know the difference.
- Bring a friend along. Girlfriends who network together stay together and having a friendly face in the room might help calm any nerves you feel.
- Request anyone you get a business card from on LinkedIn after the event. This is another way of following up and also will make it easy to keep in touch!
Remember, your network is your networth. So, you have to work it girl.