The proverbial professional mountain everyone must climb. Some people can walk into a room, survey the group, and remember every single person and what they do in a magically non-creepy way, earning the respect of their peers and about a million professional connections instantly. These people, while delightful and frankly, superhuman, are few and far between. And that is okay! We all could use a little encouragement and tips on letting our awesomeness shine at networking events. There are a LOT of great networking events in Nashville (here are just a few):
And that’s just covering about a week. Whew!
To get you ready, we thought we’d put together a little list of the five habits of good networkers:
Introduce everyone in your group.
When you strike up a conversation with someone cool, it can be easy to get lost in the pleasantries pretty quickly. Even when you are lost in a colleague’s eyes (or, you know, their knowledge of the local entrepreneur scene), make sure you don’t forget to introduce the people in your group. There’s nothing more awkward for your pal than sitting there trying to decide if they should pretend to text, go to the bathroom, or try to find some part of the conversation to jump in on. Adopt the motto “no yopro left behind” and make the introductions.
Go with the intention to help others.
The thing that makes networking so nerve-wracking is the idea of selling your “personal brand” so that others will want to help you. Intuitively, we all know it feels really great to help other people first. Go with that intuition, champ! If you sincerely interact with someone who could benefit from a connection you have, throw it their way. A room is a lot less intimidating when you don’t imagine yourself as the recipient, but the helper. You could be the fairy godmother of this networking event! Bippity boppity boo, y’all.
Follow up within 48 hours.
Trying to decide the amount of time that is appropriate to follow up with someone is kind of like the dreaded phone call after a first date. You don’t want to overkill and tweet them while you’re walking five steps behind them in the parking lot. That would be kind of weird. As long as you’re somewhere in that 48 hour time frame, you should be good – even if it’s just a “nice to meet you” email without a specific favor exchange.
Don’t want to be aimlessly grazing by the snack table in between conversations? Here’s your get-out-conversation-limbo free card: volunteer! Whether it’s formally volunteering via email before the event or simply asking the host how you can help on the day of, helping set up chairs and/or keeping those refreshments extra fresh is going to give you a guaranteed activity so you aren’t just standing around. It will also throw you into the action with other people, leading you to some pretty great connections. Plus, it will take some pressure off of the amazing host. Win win win!
Keep the drinks to 2 max.
We know, we know: you’re a tank. Being able to hold your liquor is a long-standing tradition in your family ancestry. We believe you! However, at a networking function, experts say it’s probably good to keep it to a two drink max, even if the booze is free-flowin’ (and maybe even keep it to one, depending on what you’re drinking). Sure, it might make it easier to chat after chasing away your social inhibitions with a nice chardonnay (or three), but there are a lot of things that could backfire. Let your awesomeness speak for itself! You’re gonna do great.
There you have it, y’all! Now get out to one of the super-cool networking events in Nashville this week. For all your connection opportunities (not to mention happy hours, concerts, sporting events, and more), grab Wannado. We’ve got you covered!