Networking and Building Relationships: How to Get Past the Entrance With Confidence
Networking isn’t for everyone, but it is something everyone can excel in. In this month’s “Financial Fitness,” as featured in Small Business Monthly, Karen Stern, Partner in Charge of BSW Small Business Services, discusses a few tips to help you leave your next networking event with confidence and contacts!
Whether you are year 1 or year 30 into your career, networking and building professional relationships can be scary and uncomfortable even if you are strongly extroverted. Everyone says networking and building relationships are very important in your career, and they are right! Here are some pointers to help you at your next networking event:
- Be comfortable with uncomfortable. Throughout your career you are going to find yourself at the crossroads of remaining comfortable or crossing the road into a zone where you know you will succeed as long as you accept the challenge. Networking is one of those moments for professionals. As long as you acknowledge that you are uncomfortable and accept the challenge, you will do great!
- Help others. Know you are not the only person in the room uncomfortable or by yourself. Everyone is there for the same reason, so just start a conversation with the nearest person!
- Know your elevator pitch. If someone asks you what you do, have a prepared 15- to 30-second answer. This “pitch” is about what you do, whom you do it for and possibly how long you have been at your company. A great transition for the conversation is to ask the person about himself/herself after you have nailed your pitch.
- Be consistent. “Practice makes perfect” – well, kind of. The more you network, the more you will become comfortable with it. It does not necessarily mean it will become your favorite pastime, but walking into a room of other professionals by yourself will not seem foreign.
Lifelong friendships and professional mentor/mentee relationships begin with a simple “Hello, how are you doing?” or “What do you do?” conversation.
To work on your networking and relationship-building goals for 2015, look for a welcoming event. There are many gender-focused events, such as “The Bridge: Connecting Women Leaders of Today & Tomorrow,” an event hosted by Brown Smith Wallace, as well as gender-neutral events to help practice our tips. You will know everyone in the room has the same goal: to meet new people and reconnect with other professionals.
For more information on our next Bridge event, or to sign up, click here.