Becoming a Networking Master (from #YNPNdc11)

Jun 3, 2011 by

I’m here at the YNPNdc Annual Conference, attending fantastic sessions on everything from networking and positive psychology to board service and technology. As part of the YNPNdc, I’m live-tweeting sessions all around and wanted to compile some of the tweets into a quick blog post. To follow all the live tweets, check out the hashtag #ynpndc11

Here are the details from “Becoming a Networking Master: Making the Most of In-Person Events and Creating Your Own Online Brand” with presenters Caitlin Fisher of Hellerman Baretz Communications and Jung Lim from The Washington Center.

What is Networking and why should you do it?

  • Part of your ongoing career development; building relationships; developing alliances; ongoing communications
  • When networking, think about the skills, knowledge that you can offer to others; its not just about getting something from others
  • Networking is not a popularity contest nor is it a bitch session – it supposed to be mutually beneficial

How to build your network

  • Start  with educational contacts, personal & work contacts
  • Volunteer with nonprofit organizations
  • Do informational interviews with people in your field
  • Other ways to build your network: career fairs, events, panel presentations (like the YNPNdc Conference!), online contacts including LinkedIn and other social networks

3 stages of networking

1) Getting started

  • Assemble self-marketing materials including resume, reference list, online presence (LinkedIn profile, etc.), business cards
  • Join a professional organization like @YNPNdc
  • Take action – go out and find the party!
  • Find the party – go to @YNPNdc happy hours, Biznow events, DC Chamber of Commerce, etc.

2) At the event

  • Put your name tag at eye level, dress for success, bring business cards
  • Food & drink
    • Eat beforehand so you don’t spend the entire event at the food table
    • Watch out for bad breath at networking events! Honestly: stinky food and breath is a turn off
    • Try not to drink too much (alcohol) at a networking event – you don’t want to get sloppy in front of new networking contacts
  • Have a 15 second elevator speech about what you do or what you’re looking to do
  • Elevator speech includes name (loud and clear), your job or career identity, the ‘so what’ – what you’re doing, what you’re looking for, why they should be interested
  • Create a more extended version of your greeting: the power greeeting which includes your area of interest, your credentials, experience, what you like to do.
  • Conversation starters: ask people about themselves, ask them about the space/location of the happy hour or their job
  • Know when to end the conversation – use a white lie to get out of it if you need to
  • Being an active listener is more important than being nervous about what to say

3) Relationship building

  • Get in touch quickly (2 days max), connect via email/phone/social networking
  • Remind them who you are & how you met; try to remember personal details
  • Gently indicate why you want to keep in touch – is there a business connect? opportunities to collaborate? mentoring?
  • Do NOT rule out any contacts no matter what their industry
  • Keep an eye on people’s profiles on LinkedIn and directly reach out to them about new jobs, articles posted, events, etc.
  • Go out of your way to be a resource to your network so that when you need something, they’ll respond

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