Last night I spoke at a New York City Bar Association program (in-person!) organized by my friend Paula Edgar (who I originally met at a NYC Bar program!). Paula asked me to join her on the panel with Areal Allen-Stewart, a great example of networking.
The program was about the art of schmoozing, or the art of networking, both online and in-person.
I think we all need some reminders on how to effectively network (including myself) because we’ve been out of practice for the last few years due to the pandemic.
Here are some of the suggestions I gave to the audience, which are tips that anyone can use at any age.
By the way, networking is not easy! Even for extroverts like me.
There’s always an element of fear approaching someone new, especially when you are approaching a group. How will they receive you? What if you run out of things to talk about?
It’s important to remember that you won’t connect with everyone and that’s OK!
Don’t think about it as potential rejection. You have to have a thick skin with networking. The people who you are meant to be in your life will gravitate toward you.
Paula talked about the art of the follow up and how important it is to make sure that you follow up with someone you meet afterward, not too soon and not too late either. She said it’s never too late as long as you are sincere in your outreach.
Make sure to send a LinkedIn connection request to new contacts to easily stay in touch, which you can do right from your smartphone that evening or the next morning.
Staying in touch with your connections is not as hard as you think. You can do this by:
- Being visible on LinkedIn.
- Liking their LinkedIn posts.
- Setting up a Google alert about important contacts so you are aware of their accomplishments and then congratulate them on those successes.
- Send them an article or event invite they may find of interest, or reference something you discussed during your initial conversation.
- Easily connecting with others by making your LinkedIn QR code your smartphone’s homescreen.
Most importantly, listen instead of talking. Make the other person in the center of attention (put your phone away!) and you will form an instant connection with them. Ask them questions about themselves.
Also, learn how to exit conversations gracefully. Every conversation reaches an expiration date (some quicker than others). My suggestion is to politely excuse yourself, or as Areal suggested, introduce them to someone else and exit. Less is always more!
My final tip is that building relationships is the key to your success. It can lead to new jobs, professional opportunities, and so much more.
You just never know – and one conversation could open doors you never knew existed – so make the time to network, even though you may just want to go and curl up on the couch with your dogs after work (it me). It’s worth it. It’s an investment in yourself.
What tips for networking would you add?
Here’s a video with more about the importance of networking.
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