BEAN Seattle Blog
Networking. What is it anyways? When you go to a networking event, what do you do?
It probably goes something like this: You show up at a networking night with some friends and chat with them before joining on a group conversation with other people. You meet some interesting people who work at a few tech companies and marketing agencies around the area and end up having a great discussion on your favorite Redhook seasonal beers. At the end of the evening, you exchange business cards with others but end up throwing their business cards into your laptop bag. If you’re extremely lucky, you’ve made a friend or two. If you’re just barely a hair over lucky, you’ve made a Facebook friend or a LinkedIn contact.
That’s great if you’ve attended an event with no expectations other than to make a friend but read further if you’ve ever left an event scratching your head, thinking, “Was that what I was supposed to do? Was that networking?”
In anticipation of our BEAN Pink Slip Party (which you all should go to), we’re posting a blog series to help you be a better networkers. BEAN events tend to be more on the casual side than the formal side, but you can still be a goal-oriented networker with jeans on and a beer in hand.
The definition of networking, according to Dana Manciagli is:
· Connecting for a mutual value add
· A genuine practice – beings with listening
· A way of life – not a one-time activitiy
· A structures and professional process
· Social and professional – not just for business
In order to maximize your network, you should think about the following steps:
· Evaluate what you need to grow
o What is your goal for networking? Are you looking for a new job? Do you just want to explore another career field? In order to get to the next level, do you just want to improve upon a skill or learn a new competency?
· Communicate your needs to others
o Tell someone what you are looking for.
· Note actions to take away
o Do you have action items after the event? Should you call someone or look into a course?
· Follow up with your contacts post event
o Rather than throw those business cards into an abyss, follow up with someone.
· Evaluate what it is you need to grow. See this worksheet as an example if you need help organizing your thoughts.
o I am a marketing manager but I don’t know a lot about social media and digital marketing. I want to expand my skillset to include social media marketing to expand my current role at work. I would like to network with someone who has expertise in this area.
o I am a software engineer. As I get promoted and progress in my career, I am expected to give more presentations at conferences and industry events but my public speaking skills need work. I’d love to get better at this.
· Communicate your needs to others.
o Hey, I heard that you’re in social media marketing at an agency. Can I talk to you for a little bit about social media and your thoughts on its role in marketing campaigns?
o You’re in toastmasters? I have to do more presentations at some conferences in the future. What are some good tips for public speaking and presentations?
· Note actions to take away.
o Join the Social Media Club, attend a free social media talk at UW next week, check out certain blogs, follow that company on Twitter as a best practice, etc.
o Take Microsoft’s speaking and presentation skills course at work, watch some TED talks online, practice with friends.
· Follow up with your contacts
o Schedule coffee with Roger next month to discuss progress and discuss social media
o Email Jane to follow up on conversation, then email her my slides to review before the next conference since she offered
Remember, what is your superpower? If there is a skill you excel at, think about how you can help someone mutually as well. Perhaps Jane can help you with your presentation and public speaking skills but you can help Jane with web development for a blog she’s planning to launch.
Rather than throw away cards and feel indifferent after a networking event, establish a real relationship with someone and make a real contact who can help you. Now, there is tact involved in having a conversation with someone rather than ambushing them and bombarding them with emails afterwards, but that’s for another blog and another time….
Special thanks to our previous VP of Networking, Annie Herriman for her help in crafting this blog and to Dana Manciagli for her networking guidelines.