When I was younger and started getting involved in my community, I’d be invited to networking events quite often, but being a shy 18-year-old in a networking event with older, established professionals was quite intimidating. I remember going up to someone, introducing myself and shaking their hand, but after that I had no idea what to ask or say and I’d awkwardly walk away. With time, several bad and awkward experiences, and mentors along the way; I learned the importance of good networking and how simple it can be. In reality, it only takes a couple of minutes to connect with someone on a personal level.
Networking is “the art of making and utilizing contacts,” and it’s an important aspect of developing your career, but not everyone knows how to network effectively. So, what are some good networking strategies and make the most of the mojitos you’re drinking during happy hour once a month?
If you Google “effective networking” you’ll find multiple blogs and articles that list things you should keep in mind. One of the most useful tips is determining the value of the contact you are making. If the other person can help you in some way, and you can help them, then that person is a valuable contact to have. This becomes a strategic alliance and someone you should get to know. In this case, there’s nothing to lose, only mutual benefits to gain for both parties involved.
At times, networking can be intimidating if you’re shy like me. For us shy types, Quicksprout gives a good overview of things you can do tomake networking fun while keeping it effective. The Huffington Post has a concise list of Dos and Don’ts you can check out as well.
One of the most important things I’ve learned is to have an “elevator speech” ready. This is knowing how to talk naturally about yourself and what you do, and even what you need from them, in a short amount of time. Having your “elevator speech” ready, you’ll be able to keep people’s attention and make your conversations active.
It’s also important to focus on the person you are speaking with, and what they’re saying. Yes, that means you should put your phone away!
Every connection you’re making is important. As cliché as this is about to sound, keep in mind that at the end of the day, sometimes who you know is more important that what you know. Efficient networking is a timeless lesson that will help in all facets of your professional and even personal life.
Now that we’ve gone over the importance of networking and how to make it effective, I challenge you to put effective networking into practice!
If you’re in Las Vegas, you’ll have your chance on Friday, August 21, during out Annual Summer Mixer at our Las Vegas office. If you’re in Northern Nevada, you can put these tips to use during our monthly Encuentro Reno mixers.
Last month in Reno, our staff kicked-off the first Encuentro Reno mixer. Encuentro mixers are where Latino professionals can meet and network on an ongoing, monthly basis. Encuentro Reno will be an excellent opportunity for the Reno/Sparks area to nurture up and coming professionals.