I used to associate the word “Networking” with a number of unpleasant things: tacky meeting rooms, awkward conversations, and “hello my name is” tags stuck to the front of a pant suit that doesn’t fit quite right. But as I found out at my first networking event, that’s not what it’s about these days and there are effective ways to own the room and position yourself to be one of a growing number of successful women in business.
Your First Networking Event: What to Expect
In these exciting and ever-changing times, sterile meeting places are out of date. Instead, successful women in business are networking at the newest, coolest bars and restaurants. And the people who attend these “networking events” look more and more like your actual peers. It’s 2019, and women are making moves; starting our own businesses, climbing the corporate ladder, and earning seats at the previously male-dominated table.
But what hasn’t changed is that networking is necessary. It’s an opportunity to meet new people, get leads to opportunities, and strengthen existing relationships. What I want to emphasize though is that your first networking event isn’t anything to be afraid of!
Among the many amazing networking tips for women, a few stand out to me and below are my favorite ones:
Successful Women in Business Show Up Early
You may be one to show up late to a party and leave early. But when it comes to your first networking event, it’s really important to be one of the first people to show up. This gives you time to have more intimate conversations before everyone else gets there and changes the scene.
Do Your Homework
Whether you’re meeting someone one-on-one, or going into a larger group setting, make sure that you have always done some work up front. This means understanding the background of the people who you’ll be meeting, from what makes them tick to what they do in their free time. That’s what many successful women in business do as it creates an opportunity for you to relate to them and to show that you want to get to know them.
Having said that, don’t be creepy! You don’t want to freak out the other person with too many details and personal information. But bringing up an article you saw about them, or mentioning someone that you both know can get you far in a conversation.
Make a Good Impression
One of the best ways to make a good impression with someone you just met is to be your true, authentic self. Being yourself will automatically put others around you at ease, and the conversations will flow more naturally than they might otherwise. While it’s easy to get caught up in wanting to make a good impression at the first networking event, it helps to realize that people just want to get to know the real you, and build a business relationship with THAT person.
Have faith in yourself, and what you believe in. Whether you’re there on behalf of yourself or your business, you are there because you are passionate about something! So don’t be afraid to let that shine through.
More Tips to Make a Good Impression
- Make plenty of eye-contact, but not TOO much. People will be able to tell if you are listening and paying attention by your eye contact, so make sure you show that you show genuine interest in what they say to you.
- Speak slowly and intelligently. Refrain from using slang words and “lazy” words. Instead, try replacing them with more descriptive terms. It’s a lot more fun having a conversation with someone who has more to say than “yeah” and “cool.”
- Be aware of body language too. By tilting your head slightly, you communicate that you are listening to them. You’re charismatic when your body language conveys that you’re engaged in the present moment.
- Remember names. This can be a total nightmare for some people. However, research shows that if you quietly say a person’s name at least times immediately after meeting them, you are less likely to forget it during the conversation.
Never Ask for a Job
When thinking about top networking tips of successful women in business, this next one of the most important, in my opinion. To network like a boss woman, you need to establish a rapport with a potential opportunity. Make sure you ask people for information, and listen more than you speak.
Your main goal in networking is to build new relationships, and gain as much knowledge as you can. Then, use that info to propel yourself into new opportunities. But never ask for a job; it’s a turn-off in this kind of environment.
Successful Women in Business have a Plan
Go into your first networking event with a plan of action, ladies. Instead of gravitating towards people you already know, make a beeline for people who you may not have met yet. It’s also helpful to look for the person who looks like they’re having the most fun, and start a conversation with them! Make a goal of talking to a certain number of people, or staying for a certain amount of time at the event to get the most out of the event.
Don’t Let Them Forget You
By this point, you’ve small-talked, collected business cards, and made some amazing connections. So, now what?
Now that you’ve put energy into making new connections, follow up! Following up after your first networking event and every one after that is absolutely vital. That’s how to turn those new connections into long-term relationships. While some people follow so-called dating rules when it comes to a call-back and wait three days, networking requires that you follow up the next day. Check in with them, send a card, or invite them to coffee. Make sure they don’t forget you. That’s my final tip for being one of a growing number of successful women in business.