This week, IT4Causes intern Koren Dodd provides some insight into the art of Networking.
Working at IT4Causes has exposed me to a variety of networking groups like Career Prospectors, Synapse, IT4Causes’ volunteers, and more. IT4Causes is all about networking, and we are always working to connect with new agencies that would like to improve their IT systems as well with volunteers who want to help us deliver great solutions. I started out with the bare minimum level of networking skills and worked my way up. I want to tell you what I learned during my experience and what worked for me! However, remember these are just tips from my own personal experience. Every person beats to the rhythm of their own drum. I’m hoping you’ll find this information helpful when establishing your own networking rhythm.
The first thing I noticed which works with any type of networking is simple: appearance. Put on that outfit that makes you feel like a queen. If you feel good, you will perform well. This also helps with the confidence tactic. Confidence is everything. I apply this to the tone of my voice, my body language, my words and even my clothes. People are drawn to confidence. In one of my first networking meetings I walked into a crowded room, knowing no one. I decided to jump right in and started conversing and navigating the room. A person approached me almost immediately asking how this meeting operated since they were new. When I told them I also was new to the meeting, they were shocked. They thought I was one of the administrators in charge!
Starting conversation can be tough and sometimes a little awkward. Typically, it’s good to start out with someone who is standing alone, looking around. Both of you could probably use a good warm-up before delving into the crowd. It’s always best to put the spotlight on the other person first. Everyone loves to know you’re interested in them. Ask them questions about what they do or maybe even their hobbies. Remember, you’re trying to establish a relationship-not make a sales pitch. That’s for later!
Lastly, there is the follow up. You should have obtained the other person’s business card at some point during the conversation. I typically start out with an email during the same week:
“Good morning, my name is Koren we had met at the Synapse meeting on Monday. I’m really interested in learning more about your company. Would you want to meet up for coffee sometime?”
Keep it brief and if they haven’t responded in about a week’s time I would call, leaving them a voicemail if need be. The important thing is to not let the other person feel like you are crowding or bombarding them.
If you’re interested in reading the full article I wrote on networking, please visit my LinkedIn page here. If you have any questions please feel free to comment or send me a message. Happy networking!