Networking: 6 Ways To Make It A Little More Exciting

Networking Tips Miriam Ballesteros.jpeg

 

I’m sure you’ve heard this saying before:

It’s not only about who you know, it’s who knows you.
— Unknown

 

And you bet it’s true!

Networking is an extraordinary chance to help your career grow. Not only you get to interact with people in your industry, but you can also begin a relationship with them.

Fact is: I’m beyond excited to attend two of the most popular events in my field. FinCon in Dallas, and Money20/20 in Las Vegas.

(I'd have laughed if you had told me a year ago that the 1st time I'd be in Las Vegas would be for a financial conference. But here we are! 😊)

So, to make it a little more fun, I’ve compiled a list of 6 networking tips to start testing out right away.

Ready?

Let’s get down to business!

 

1. Tell your network where you are going

Tweet it out, post it on Facebook, share it on Instagram.

When you let your network know where you’re going to be, they might happen to be there too, or know someone there who wants to connect.

Here’s what I posted after getting my ticket for #FinCon17:

It’s always good to let people know when you’re coming because what could be a trip for one meeting might turn into lots of opportunities.
 

2. Bring business cards

Some people say business cards are on the verge of extinction.

I don’t agree.

We no longer use business cards to share contact information —there’s phones and LinkedIn for that. Instead, business cards have become an extension of our brands.

I recently order mine at Moo.com, and this is how they look like:

 
Business Cards Miriam Ballesteros Blog.jpg
 

The details you may want to include are basically: logo, name, tagline, website, email, Twitter & Instagram handle, and phone number.

But on a personal note, I think adding a photo makes it easier for people to match a name to a face, which can be helpful after the event.

 

3. Go in with conversation starters

"How about that weather, huh?"

Just kidding.

There are better ways to get the conversation ball rolling. My favorites go-to icebreakers include:

  • Anything related to the event: "I’m a first timer at #FinCon17. How did you find out about this event?"
  • A non-cliché career-related question: "What do you like most about what you do?"
  • A discussion of an awesome read you’ve enjoyed, be it an article or a book: "I recently read Linchpin by Seth Godin, and I thought it was really interesting. Have you read anything good lately?"

  • A non-controversial news topic: "Wow, I just can’t believe all the crazy headlines today. What a week!"

  • A breather from some other stuffier subjects: "What do you like to do when you’re not in the office?"

  • Something funny: "I’ll be honest, the only person I know here is the bartender, and I just met him two minutes ago. Mind if I introduce myself?

  • Or something as simple as: “What an amazing city. Have you been to Dallas before?”

The best part?

All these questions will likely be turned on you, giving you an opportunity to expand on your experience, and share a few of your skills!

 

4. Get personal

While being professional is a must, I do believe that sharing a little bit more about yourself is a great way to make genuine connections.

As Achim Nowak, author of Infectious: How to Connect Deeply and Unleash the Energetic Leader Within, puts it:  

When we reveal something personal, it gives your listener permission to do the same. I don’t believe in oversharing, but the more risks we take in being vulnerable, the more people are drawn to us because we seem real.
— Achim Nowak

 

5. Dress for networking success

Here goes one of my favorite tips:

Wear something that makes you feel great — your power outfit, a trendy blazer, a statement necklace, or your go-to power meeting suit.

The point is walking into a room feeling comfortable, and knowing you look fabulous.

That is a serious confidence booster.

 

6. Follow-up

Make sure to stay connected with the people you actually like and want to build meaningful relationships with.

Take a look at the business cards you received, email them, or add on LinkedIn those you met while it’s still fresh in your mind.

It really is that simple.

 

*BONUS TIP*  Leave your business card in the in-flight mag

I’ve got a confession to make.

This week will be the first time I do this: leaving my business card as a bookmark in the magazine that’s in the back of the seat on the airplane.

Yes, you read that right.

Business people will typically flip through this magazine at some point during the flight. So if you just happen to leave your business card as a bookmark in it, they might find it intriguing, and give you a call.

 

Bringing it all together

Rather than thinking of networking only as an "event", consider it an ongoing process of building new relationships with people in your industry.

Here are some ways to make it less intimidating —and even a little more fun:

  1. Tell your network where you are going
  2. Bring business cards
  3. Go in with conversation starters
  4. Get personal
  5. Dress for networking success
  6. Follow-up
  7. Leave your business card in the in-flight mag

Now it’s your turn to help yourself by being more connected to people in your niche.

It’s all about who knows you! 😉

Miriam Ballesteros