Last week for Working Wednesday we talked about the joys of getting out from behind your laptop and co-working with colleagues. Well. This week, in the spirit of Social Media Week, I want to talk about the importance of networking and investing in your business.
For the first time EVER I purchased a pass for an industry conference. I took the plunge and spent $250 on a Campus Pass for SMW, and I fully intend on cashing in with three workshops/panels this week. It's a big deal for me as I've never spent this kind of money on my business before, and I'm so excited to be taking this huge step.
When you invest in your business you are telling YOURSELF that you're serious. You're serious about learning more about your industry, improving your skills, delivering the best possible products and services, and you are actively seeking new colleagues, friends, and referral partners.
It's important here to note that I didn't say "actively seeking new clients." Why? Because that's not the point of these things. If you're going to networking events, classes, workshops, panels, holiday parties, etc hoping to nab ten new clients - you're doing it all wrong.
The point of these events is to find like-minded people who are equally passionate about the industries you serve. You want to make friends here who will remember you and recommend you out to their extended networks.
It's not about making hard sales at these kinds of events. It's about making solid connections.
Social Media Week might be the first time I'm making a monetary investment in my expanding my network, but it's certainly not the first time I'm attending an event. I've had the good fortune of attending The Blogcademy (twice), Walkabout NYC Panels, holiday mixers, launch parties, coworking events, and other general meet-and-greets for free (or by way of internships/volunteering) over the past few years.
It's been great practice and I've learned a few tricks of the networking trade along the way. So today I thought I'd share some of those with you. Ready? Let's do this.
1. Dress appropriately. Put your boobs and sky-high stilettos away. You're going to a work event, not Pacha. Wear something comfortable, professional, but still with a dose of pizazz to keep you memorable. My favorite thing to do is throw on purple lipstick. Nobody forgets a girl wearing purple lipstick. (Pro tip: wear a pair of pants with functioning pockets - one for your biz cards, one for biz cards you acquire.)
2. Bring a pen. As you meet people and collect business cards, quickly jot down some notes to help jog your memory later. I don’t mean to stand right there and take down everything they are saying. After you meet someone, take their card, and say goodbye, find a quiet space to whip out your pen and scribble down one important takeaway from your conversation. If it's a smaller event, I'd even recommend waiting till the end.
3. Don’t get loaded. I feel like this one should be a no-brainer, but sometimes people are easily seduced by free drinks at these kinds of events. Don’t be the girl (or guy) who is remembered for falling down in the middle of the venue. Tap out at tipsy.
4. Follow up. If you meet someone and tell them “I will absolutely get in touch with you about that” ...make sure you actually do. And if you simply meet someone awesome and want to continue the conversation with them, shoot them a quick email or tweet to remind them that you’re interested. Don’t be afraid to throw open the door to conversation. You’d be surprised how positively most people will respond.
5. Organize your contacts. Whether that means inputting them into your phone/address book immediately or updating your digital rolodex - make sure you do it! It’s easy to lose and/or forget about stacks of business cards. I know because I’ve done it too many times. By plugging all your newfound friends into your devices, you keep all that hard work safe. I usually will even take it a step farther and follow people on Twitter and sometimes even friend them on Facebook.
Psssst: I’ve got a great digital rolodex spreadsheet thingee that I will be rolling out as a template in some products this year! But if you would like to grab a beta version, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'd be happy to send one your way free of charge!
And that'll about do it! Do you guys have any other great networking tips? I'd love to hear them, so feel free to drop them in the comments below or over on my Facebook page.
I'll see you guys back here tomorrow for a Thoughtful Thursday editorial!