I’m with my husband and daughter at a large social gathering making small talk, asking who do you know here and are you so and so’s cousin. I’m counting the seconds down until we leave and I’m beyond thankful that we have a dog as an excuse. In fact, we had to get a puppy when we couldn’t use my daughter as an excuse anymore because she was getting too old. I’m 100% serious when I tell you I wouldratherhave been at a networking event.
I found that as I honed my craft as a career coach and my elevator pitch, I enjoyed walking into a situation with purpose. At networking events, I set goals to have meaningful conversations where both parties could benefit. My intention is never t to pitch my services with a hard sell, get tons of business cards or ask for a job. It's to learn about people, what types of companies they work for, what they do and why they like it. The point of these events is to meet people and build relationships and build your network.
For the past 10 years, a good portion of my private practice has come from networking and referrals, talking to people at social gatherings, the supermarket, library and of course formal events. My corporate contracts have come from 100% networking. But while it works, people still hate doing it. I’d like to offer a few strategies to make the situation more palatable, and even enjoyable.
First, know how to present yourself and craft your elevator pitch. It should be no more than 60 seconds and cover what you want to do and who you want to do it for, and it should be rehearsed until it sounds natural.
Second, choose your events wisely. Research what companies will be in attendance, keynote speakers, and if it’s a structured event. A well-organized event with specific networking activities makes it much easier to connect.
Third, know your audience. Scan the room for attendees that are standing by themselves or groups of two or three that are side by side. This means that they are open to being approached. Approaching a closed circle can get awkward unless you have a colleague in the mix.
Most important relax, be yourself and have genuine conversations with people. You will be pleasantly surprised by how quickly your network grows.
Kelley Dadah is Career Coach certified through the ICF as well as a Certified Resume Writer. For the past decade, she’s helped hundreds if not thousands transition successfully into fulfilling careers.