How to Make Networking Work For You: 8 Women Share Their Networking Tips
We know that networking can be the key to snagging a job. But what if it’s not your forte? What if you walk into a networking event feeling clammy, anxious and a little intimidated?
That’s totally okay—lots of us need to psych ourselves up in order to make those networking connections that last and prove helpful. Capitalizing on your connections can change your career trajectory or boost your business, so we asked eight female leaders to share their favorite networking tip (since they already shared their networking success stories with us). Bookmark this to reread next time you’re headed to a work cocktail hour or event!
Erika Murdock Balbuena, Head of Impact Computing, Amazon Web Services
“First take stock of your network and what you are currently seeking. Is it to learn something, a.k.a. from peers? Is it to advance your career, aka internal networking? Is it to learn about other companies, aka external networking? Add executives to your network, advisor/sponsor networking? As you build your career and personal board of directors all these people play a role in your life, but you may not need them all right now. Usually everyone has at least 20 minutes so also don’t be afraid to ask!”
Tiffany Yu, CEO & Founder, Diversability
“Think of networking as building relationships. If I am going to an event on my own, I’ll strike up a conversation with someone as I am grabbing food or as I am getting seated. Not all interactions will stick, but if I connect with someone, I’ll add them on LinkedIn later and engage with them that way. I don’t like to think of networking as transactional, so mainly I’m just focused on getting to know them without anything in return. That way you’re nurturing and cultivating relationships before you ‘need’ them.”
Stephanie Thoma, IRL Connection Enthusiast, Stephanie Thoma Solutions (ft. Networking for Introverts Workshop)
“Always attend networking events solo”
Shivani Honwad, Esq., The Law Firm of Shivani Honwad LLC
“A great opener is to compliment someone on something (what they’re wearing, something they said. etc.). Kindness matters! If that’s not easily doable, always wear something unique… [My go-tos] were my big earrings, mint green heels or a scarf. These pieces almost always invited a conversation. Then when you get their business card, write on the back: 1) where you met them, 2) what you talked about/their expertise and 3) the compliment you gave them or what they said about your unique accessory. So, when you follow up with them later you can include those tidbits, which helps to make the connection more personal and you more memorable!”
Abbey Donnell, Founder & President, Work & Mother
“This tip will sound so basic, but for me it really helps. I try to make my first intro as I’m entering the venue: ‘Hi, are you also going to XYZ?’ Or, while checking in, I’ll introduce myself to the first person I make eye contact with and ask what they do or how they’re affiliated with the organization or event. I find that if I can make this happen as I’m walking in or checking in, so that I’m having a conversation as I enter the room, I am far more at ease and feel more confident to make introductions once I’m actually in the event. If I miss that window, and I walk in cold and feel like everyone else is already talking, I have a much harder time being outgoing. Also, follow-up is key!”
Kari Clark, Founder, Uplift
“Take a photo of the person with their card. You are more memorable, and that way you can put a face with a name. The other tip is to be ruthlessly curious. Really dig into what they do and what makes them tick versus keeping the conversation surface level. You will learn so much about them and the world around you.”
Laura Wyant, Digital Media and Strategy Consultant, The Rise Journey
“Stay in touch with everyone. Pass along opportunities for other women no matter the scope to show you are thinking of their successes and strong suits. It is a simple way to operate and will open doors you could never have imagined.”
Shabrina Koeswologito, Founder, Slow Travel Story
“In the first couple of months living in New York City, I prioritized building connections. I have to be proactive. Try different kinds of meetup groups, professional events, volunteering. My aha moment came when I read The Art of Mingling by Jeanne Martinet. That’s how I learned the intricacies of U.S. small talk. Also, I read more than 10 blogs on how to network and mastering the art of building relationships. For me, the key is to always give value before asking for something. And to surround yourself with 10 to 15 highly connected people that allow you to tap into their skills. These 15 people are the ones that you need to maintain daily.”
Interested in how other female founders are making entrepreneurship happen? Follow our #BalancedHustler series, or join us in Boston on June 22, 2019, for our Balanced Hustle Summit to expand your network and learn from founders who’ve built multi-million dollar businesses.
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