I recently wrote a post for start-up Tradeversity (check them out!) called “5 tips for growing and leveraging your network.” I’ve had numerous people ask me if I had advice for them (disclaimer: ya girl is no expert) when it comes to networking and attending networking events.
See a few tips I’ve found helpful as well as my other post below. Happy handshaking!
- Always have a FIRM handshake. You’d be surprised the number of people who will remember your name for simply having a good shake, especially (sadly) if you’re a woman. Ladies, don’t do that crappy offering of your hand or light squeeze — that doesn’t cut it, and it makes you look weak. Oh, and make good eye contact with your handshake as well.
- Wear your name tag on the right side and your lapel pin on the left. You knew this already.
- Ask A LOT of questions of someone. People will like you more if they think you’re genuinely interested in them and/or in what they do. It makes them feel important, and you seem smarter because you’re interested in learning. Win win.
- Always send a follow-up email (get their contact info!) after you meet someone, even if you don’t need something at the moment. That person may be helpful to you down the line, and it’s good to have for future reference. Something as simple as “it was so nice meeting you today, I look forward to connecting with you again in the future…” will suffice.
- Remember a unique piece of information about someone so that the next time you see them or when you email them, you can mention it. It makes you seem as if you were paying close attention to them (remember, people like to feel important) and they’ll appreciate it. Example: “I’m happy to have met someone who appreciates Snapchat as much as I do!”
5 tips for growing and leveraging your network
Whether it’s your uncle, a mentor or a random lady you met at a coffee shop, the one piece of advice you are sure to hear while in college is, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”
While this cliché phrase is tossed around and readily handed out to people, especially college students, it still rings true.
Your network can be 5 people or 5,000 people, but if you don’t know how to leverage each person in your network to help you or know how to foster good relationships with those individuals, your network is worth very little to you.
Here are 5 tips to growing and leveraging your network to benefit you the most:
1. Identify everyone already in your network.
A suggestion I received from one of my connections was to write down every single person I know — whoa. That’s a task right there. But just the act of doing so makes you realize just how many people you know and how wide a range of job titles and industries they have.
It’s difficult to think about to whom you need to talk (generally speaking) if you don’t think about whom you already have in your circle. Haven’t spoken to someone in a looong time? Fine. Just be sure to give them a warm introduction to make reaching out to them seem sincere.
2. Think about how people in your circles may aid you in your search.
If you can’t tell people what you need, a lot of the time, they can’t help you. Be specific with your requests of connections, and they’ll be much more helpful to you. Want a point of contact at that awesome company? Ask. Want to shadow them on the job for a day? Ask. The worst they can say is no.
3. Ask/look into who THEY know.
Thank goodness for LinkedIn. Use this tool to your advantage. Spend some time doing some major creeping (like finding your ex’s best friend’s older brother’s girlfriend on Instagram creeping) and sift through the connections with whom your connections are connected. That was a lot… Simply said, see who your LinkedIn connections have on their pages. It’s a small world — more than likely, you know someone who knows whom you’d like to contact. Do some digging and figure out who can help you get from point A to point B.
4. Get out there, kid.
Major key here. Your network will not grow if you don’t work to enlarge it. Get involved with the professional chapters in the industry in which your major is. If you’re a public relations major like I am, get involved with the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). If you’re a marketing major, get involved with the American Marketing Association (AMA). There are typically student chapters of groups like these on college campuses, which makes it easier to reach the “grown-up” ones. And when you go to their events, don’t spend the whole time on your phone — get more copies of your business card made and start shaking hands. Remember — name tags on the right side of the body.
5. If you don’t know someone you want to know, reach out to them
As we’ve coined on Twitter, it is #ShootYourShot2016. Why not apply that to professionals in your field you’d like to get to know better? Asking them out for coffee or simply requesting 30 minutes of their time for a phone call isn’t that much to ask. And if they ignore you or deny you (ouch, curve game strong), it’s on to the next one *Jay-Z voice*.