Archives for August 2019

Networking 401 for the Network-Disabled: Following Up 

If you have experienced moments as I described in posts from previous weeks (Networking 101, Networking 201, Networking 301), such as fears of being imposing, too aggressive, not interesting enough, etc., then following up will potentially, if not certainly, trigger more thoughts of the same.

Even if you felt as though there was a strong rapport and that the person seemed genuinely interested in connecting again, analysis paralysis can strike and cause procrastination, which may present in full-blown failure to follow up. This stage is where you determine the return on your investment of time, energy, and occasionally money, in your networking endeavors.

I’ve been prone to overthinking when needing to follow up, even though I’m consciously aware that the best practice is to follow up the next day while people’s memories are still fresh. If someone you met was wildly popular, I’d wait a couple of days for the eager beavers to filter through.

If you find yourself unable to follow up promptly, don’t abandon hope that you’ll be able to generate opportunity because you are late. Like being serendipitously late to an event, sometimes delays can benefit you. 

Firstly, if when you first met you mentioned a resource, introduction, or information that you thought would be immediately helpful, deliver it. Then ask the person to schedule a follow-up call or meeting. If you’re not able to deliver, then at least update them. Perhaps a follow-up conversation would help you deliver better.

The objective, once you have met someone digitally or in real life, is to allocate more time to get better acquainted. This can look like a lot of things, some of which you may even enjoy!  We are all time-starved. Rather than resorting to an email, where most people I know are over-flooded with incoming communications, see if there is a medium that is already a part of the person’s daily, weekly, or monthly flow – someplace they’ll already be, but where their attention isn’t diverted to too many other demands. 

WHERE TO FOLLOW UP:

In real life

If you both mentioned a love of hiking or some other activity, tie that into your next plans. Perhaps there is a group hike you can both attend where you can not only get to know each other better, but can also help each other meet other people.  

When one person I was introduced to told me that she couldn’t talk on a Tuesday because she was attending a flower show that I also had considered attending, I suggested we meet there. And we did. And we wound up spending a whole day together appreciating flowers and flower artisans. We were also able to write that flower show off as work expenses, along with the expenses of getting there. 

If this person works or lives somewhere near you or somewhere you want to go, you can double leverage your time and schedule other activities or errands, let them know and offer to go when they have time to meet. 

On social media

Perhaps personal interests didn’t come up. Do a bit of personal research. See what you can discern from social media. If you met someone and only talked business, invite them to connect on LinkedIn, but not Facebook or Instagram (unless their business is on Instagram.) You may not be on Twitter, but I have found that people who tweet regularly tend to divulge personal opinions you may not see them sharing on other social media.  If you think your audience isn’t using Twitter – think again. It takes but a minute to check. If they are on Twitter and tweet daily, this is the best way to catch them in the flow of their day.  

If you send a LinkedIn invitation to someone, you only have 300 characters. Not everyone is active on LinkedIn. If you see that your contact has only a few connections, little content in their profile, and no recent activity, they may not see your invitation for a while, if at all.  If this is the case, use a backup method. 

Phone/Texting

How many times do you answer your phone when you don’t know the number calling? Rarely, I’d bet, unless you are a busy salesperson. The art of calling people has really become the art of leaving a message. The rules are simple: don’t be a telemarketer. 

Often when I leave a message, I let the other person know that they can respond via text to let me know their availability to speak. I may also let them know that I will follow up with an email or LinkedIn message (if I know they use it daily). This gives them options to respond in a way that is most convenient for them. 

Video Conference

Though I don’t prefer it because when I don’t have meetings scheduled I like to save time by staying in leisure clothes (okay, pajamas), I accommodate requests to video chat because there is something deeper about looking at someone when you talk. It can be a bit awkward, however, with delays, cameras that don’t line up with your eyesight (so you look like you’re looking elsewhere), and technical difficulties.  It’s still the next best thing to meeting in person, and you don’t have to take time to travel anywhere (just to get camera-ready.)

All of the above

Ideally, somehow you are tracking all of your networking outreach efforts. (We have a toolkit for that). I suggest trying a variety of social media outlets. You may find success with one method where others have failed.  

HOW TO FOLLOW UP:

KISS

Write or say a sentence that reminds the person how and where you met, and why you decided to follow up, specifically how you think you can help each other. 

The logistics of making time to network are challenging for most people. You can make this easy and minimize the time needed to exchange communications just to schedule by sharing a scheduling link. Calend.ly offers free accounts where you can sync with your other calendars and provide people with a link that lets them book right on your schedule. Networking meetings by phone require 20 minutes. You may upgrade your account to also offer happy hour or coffee/lunch meetings that would be longer. You may also give them a choice between the two, but that’s not quite as simple. 

Yes, everyone has to eat. You can make that point. We all know, however, that eating takes much longer when you combine it with talking, so you turn a 30-minute lunch easily into a 90-minute lunch.

Add value

Send an article, information, event registration link, RFP link, LinkedIn profile link, or something else you suspect will be of value based on your brief meeting. 

HOW OFTEN/LONG TO FOLLOW UP:

12-call rule

I have had sales training that taught me that, statistically, it can take a salesperson 12 calls before securing a sale. Thinking about it, I believe I have worked with vendors who were patiently persistent, special emphasis on the “patiently.” If you have someone who has explicitly expressed an interest in what you offer, give them every chance you can to follow through. 

5-touch rule

Even for general networking, I would say that five attempts to contact someone are sufficient and that often four falls short. As explained by all of the above methods, don’t make touch-base using the same media every time. Maximize your chances of interrupting someone’s attention by using first what you think they use most often, but where you aren’t competing with many others for their attention. At least one of these methods should be a call. 

On the last attempt, just as a courtesy to them and out of consideration of their time, let them know it’s the last attempt. You probably wouldn’t believe how often I have seen this work. In fact, to quote contacts that I have reached out to on the 5th contact, as well as many other clients who I recommended follow through with one last (5th) attempt, the contacts said that they “appreciated the persistence.” Truly – people want to help. Everyone’s time and energy is being pulled by different priorities. Making that 5th attempt is a way to acknowledge that someone genuinely wants to connect/help/be helped, but has other priorities which you can empathize with. 

MISCELLANEOUS TIPS:

Target Company Sponsors and Informants

When one of your contacts has inside knowledge or influence to increase your chances of getting an interview (based on need, not necessarily a formal job posting,) do your homework before you take their time. Come up with five to seven questions, each of which your contact can answer in a minute or less. I suggest comparing what you learn about a company, opportunity, and boss with a set list of 25-50 criterions, including some must-haves and some ideal (jackpot) criteria.  Whatever you can’t determine through online research is potentially something you can learn from your contact. 

Someone willing to help you by giving you insight may or may not be willing to help you by getting your résumé to the hiring manager. Be direct in your request – “Would you be willing to make an introduction to the Director of Technology?” OR “I’ve tried applying already. Would you be willing to send my résumé directly to the hiring manager?” OR “Do you know who the hiring manager is on this?” I recommend you also ask if their company has a referral bonus program and if you can use their name as the person who referred you. 

Some may say “no” based their perceived influence, or lack thereof, their lack of relationship, or lack of access to the hiring manager. Some companies have policies that prevent this. It’s not always about their willingness to help. Again, be empathetic here. If they can’t help you by sponsoring you (being the source of your referral into the company or introducing you to the hiring manager), ask them how most of the people who are hired make their way in, NOT the best way to apply. Applying always implies a website these days; that’s the answer you’ll get. 

Respect people’s time/schedule

If you say you are only asking for XX minutes, make sure that you only take XX minutes. Keep your eye on the time and let them know when you only have a couple of minutes left. If by the end of that time you feel that you have only scratched the surface, suggest that you pick a new time right then and there to continue the conversation, and suggest that you allocate more time next time, and perhaps combine it with a meal or activity. 

Tickler

The same way I hope you are tracking your outreach activities and contacts, I hope that you have a way to remind yourself to follow up with people every so often. Within the month of your follow up meeting, then every three months is a good best practice, but not always possible. Some people you may not follow up with for another 6 months. Make a note of when their busy season is and try to avoid following up then.  

This is the last article in the Networking for the Networking-Disabled series. If you have not read those, click on the following links: Networking 101, Networking 201, Networking 301.

I hope that you are inspired and feel better prepared to start expanding your sphere of influence and fulfillment.  It does get more comfortable the more you do it, and you’ll definitely feel more motivated once you have some great outcomes resulting from your efforts. Imagine those outcomes now. What kind of magic do you want networking to make possible in your life?

Blondie – Call Me (Official Video)

Official video of Blondie performing Call Me from the soundtrack of the movie American Gigolo. #Blondie #CallMe #Vevo

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

Networking 301 for the Network-Disabled: Creating Magic in the Moment

Allow me to recap some important lessons from Networking 101 and Networking 201 on networking for the network-disabled:

#1. Networking, at its best, is not a means to an end; it’s a life-enriching exercise that allows you to find and build relationships with people you like, care to know better, want to see more often, want to support, and who want to support you too. It’s about quality, not quantity.

#2. Networking beginners can ease their way into networking and get great results by finding groups whose purpose is in creating connections, or social or special-interest related groups where there is a shared vision, mission, or hobby. 

#3. In order to optimally leverage your network to create opportunity, inform them on how your uniqueness creates hard business value and emotional benefits, AND demonstrate your value by creating an opportunity for them. [A formula and question script was provided last week.]

#4. Making new connections does not mean you have to ditch your old ones.

#5. Go to events with an idea of who you want to talk to, what you might ask/say, and what outcome you want most, but stay open to unexpected experiences and people, too.

Now let’s start with a new lesson:

Being magnetic in a moment is a reflection of how well you have cared for and valued yourself. 

No matter how comfortable you try to make networking as a beginner, it still requires you to be vulnerable, open, and brave.  With practice and reinforcement of positive results, you will build confidence, naturally be open to trying more new things, and become more immune to people who are not receptive. Until then, self-doubts you have are most likely going to emerge, and you will have to consciously overcome them. 

They show up in the following ways:

  • Beforehand when you look through who are attending, speaking, and sponsoring, and you question if/why any of these people would really want to speak with you. 
  • As you are mentally rehearsing it going exactly as you want it to, but remember previous awkward moments and wonder if you’ll be able to pull off being cool or if they’ll see right through you.
  • When logistics of going or arriving on time get complicated or screwed up and you wonder if the universe is trying to tell you to stay home so you can save yourself from some disastrous experience.
  • As you arrive and realize you forgot the names of the people you want to meet and what you prepared to say. 
  • When you spot the person you want to meet, but they are surrounded by other people vying for his or her attention and you wonder, again, why you would be of any interest among all those other people and what you could possibly say to make yourself memorable among them.
  • As you leave, even though you might feel proud and happy with new connections you made, you start to review your conversations over again in your head, wondering if you said something offensive, if you used the wrong word, said the wrong name, or if they’ll find out you really don’t know as much about something as you tried to make it seem. 
  • When a conversation leans toward opinions on potentially divisive or controversial topics or other people, and you wonder if you’ll put your foot in your mouth.
  • When you go to follow up and you realize that, if this person doesn’t respond, you’ll be wondering what you might have done to turn them off, if you’re likable, or if you came off as negative, uninteresting, needy, nerdy, etc. 

If it sounds like I’ve been there from the level of detail I gave, the answer is, “Oh yes”. And, even though I have a thriving network and have been teaching others how to network now for 13 years, these thoughts still pop up. I have just become better at recognizing them and shutting them down. I also realized that I don’t want to shut them down all the way since I could do quite a bit with self-hypnosis to replace these thoughts with more self-affirming thoughts. Self-affirming thoughts are good, and I believe we could all use more of them. However, my personal growth goal is to become even more emotionally intelligent and self-aware. So, I’d rather be better at distinguishing what I say and do from who I am, and be more conscious of having conversations that enhance rapport and add value.  I also have to know when to leave the past in the past and move on, or I could analyze myself into anxiety. 

I certainly don’t mean to scare you. Knowing ahead of time when lapses in self-confidence can occur enables you to apply some of the following tools to quickly recover and put yourself back in action to make good things happen. 

Tool #1: Breathing

You’ve probably heard this one before, but you could probably benefit from being reminded. It’s simple, but not always easy to remember in the moment. Stress and anxiety are contagious. Taking in deep, slow breaths is the fastest way to calm your thoughts and your nervous system, and to lower your blood pressure. The increase in oxygen to your brain will also enable you to exercise better judgment, minimizing those cringe-worthy moments. Take a little trip to the bathroom or a mini-walk outside, if possible, and notice how much better you feel, which will make people feel better around you.

Tool #2: Affirmations/Mantras

If talking to yourself sounds stupid, remember that you do it anyway. Sometimes what you say to yourself is worse than what you would ever say out loud to anyone else. When you notice those thoughts of self-doubt, replace them with affirmation. For example, if you start to wonder why anyone would want to take time out to return your phone call, literally ask yourself this question, then answer as though you were your biggest fan. “I have great ideas and genuinely care about helping others achieve their goals.” Over time you may notice some thoughts of self-doubt are more frequent than others. Journaling really helps increase your self-awareness of this. Adopt an empowering mantra that you can repeat several times a day every day. 

Tool #3: Your Biofield

There is still so much to learn about the biofield, which is an energetic emittance around our physical body. It has been proven to exist and can be detected and measured by machines, but can’t be seen with the human eye, much like the earth’s atmosphere. Our biofield reacts and responds to other people’s biofields, as observed at a cellular level. Much in the same way anxiety and stress are contagious, so are other emotions. If we want to inspire affection of others, we can heighten our own affection for and connection with others by tuning into those emotions. Take a moment to imagine that pure love is emanating from your heart and reaching out to each and every person in the room. Imagine yourself accepting them with all of their imperfections and qualities, and that they have the capacity to accept you, too. It doesn’t hurt to send out a mental wish as you do this, that the people who want and need you will reveal themselves and make a connection with you.

Tool #4: Humility

Competitive people may find that they get more immediate results by putting themselves in a competitive mindset, but aggressive tactics can backfire in the long run.  I had advised you to create a goal and turn it into a game, but that’s only to infuse fun into the activity. If you put too serious of a game face on, you may muscle some people into taking the next step, but find a lag in follow-through. 

Too much confidence is a known rapport blocker.  Overcompensating for a lack of confidence can be perceived as overconfidence. People will genuinely relate to you more if you don’t pretend to be anything you’re not.  You’re likely to elicit more support and help by admitting that you’re nervous, not sure what to say, or that you’re new to networking.  

If something comes out of your mouth that you wish you hadn’t said, call yourself out on it.  Get yourself back into a high intention. Ask for a re-do. Most people find that people who take accountability for their mistakes are more trustworthy than those who defend themselves.

If it’s too late, learn from it, and leave it in the past. The Hawaiian practice of ho’oponopono has really helped me to stop driving myself crazy with regret and remorse, especially when there’s no opportunity to apologize and make things right. It’s also very simple. Repeat:

I love you 

I’m sorry

I forgive you

Thank you 

Tool #5: Trust 

Trust that the perfect moment will present itself, but in the case it doesn’t, decide on a make or break play. I can hear other coaches now, “No, no, no. They have to make it happen.” Well, let’s call this an experiment. I have found that when I intend to go to something to meet someone and find that many others are vying for their attention, if I force something to happen it feels forced – not genuine or memorable in a good way, and not a great start to deepening a connection. However, if I instead reassure myself that the perfect moment will unfold and decide to enjoy conversations with other people in the meantime, synchronicity is in my favor and, not only do I get to have an interaction with the person, but there is a more welcoming space and context, a more natural flow of conversation, and more enthusiastic and specific follow up that leads to mutual synergy. I’m also calmer and tend to attract better-unexpected connections. 

I tested this at the MindValley Reunion in 2017.  Instead of pushing my way to the front so that I could find a good seat first when they opened the doors to let us in for speakers, I trusted that wherever I was in line, I would find a good seat. I got a front-row seat twice and within the first five rows all except for one time out of six. I also got to meet five of the speakers in serendipitous encounters where no one else was competing for their attention. Vishen even stopped to ask me a question (after he whiffed on my high five – yes – I tried to high five Vishen, and I forgave myself.)

You don’t have to be suave, a world-class conversationalist, or the most interesting person in the world to expand your network. You don’t have to have the noblest of goals to inspire people’s help. You don’t have to be any particular way, any status, or be at any particular stage in your career. You can just be you. Of course, take the steps to be your best you, but everyone has off moments, and they don’t define you. However, the people that you meet have the potential to help you create a life that you do define. If you never take the chance of meeting them, you automatically eliminate that potential. 

Next week, we’ll cover how following up best practices convert momentary magic into long-lasting opportunity. 

Pete Townshend – Let My Love Open The Door (Original)

Pete Townshend – Let My Love Open The Door (Original Video 1980)

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

Networking 201 for the Network-Challenged

Last week we talked about how to find great events to begin and expand your comfort zone with networking. 

This week let’s explore what you can do prior to an event that will help you make the most of it.

Let’s assume you were able to identify 5 or 6 great events in the next two weeks that you can attend, and 3 or 4 of them feasibly work with your schedule. 

You have a decision to make right now for some of them with limited attendance and registration cut-off dates.

If they require tickets and you cannot afford to go, as advised last week, contact the organizer(s) to see if they could use an extra volunteer. Once you commit to being a volunteer, show up 15 minutes earlier than you committed to. Follow through, but remember that emergencies happen. Take care of an emergency, but if you say you’ll volunteer and don’t show up, you’ll be lumped into a category of past volunteers who flaked.  In essence, you’re flaky. That’s the opposite impression you want to make.

Not all events require you to commit to going, and I wouldn’t always advise you to be early. Sometimes, it’s best to talk to people when they’re fresh, and sometimes you’ll find that people need some time to warm up and get in the groove. I’ve even showed up to networking events late, which is better than never, and found that the exact person who I wanted to meet was still there and heading to grab a bite to eat, so we did together and accomplished so much.  If you’re just a guest, know that it may not be of consequence to anyone else when you show up. When you show up can be based on what you hope to achieve.

Set your intention. What is the best thing that could happen from you attending this event? Take a moment to visualize it – statistically, this leads to increased chances of synchronicity, or luck.

Check the attendee, speaker, and sponsor lists ahead of time.  If there is someone you want to meet, don’t wait until you’re at the event to approach him or her. You’ll risk competing with many people. Touch base ahead of time via LinkedIn, e-mail, or twitter.  A sample message would be:

“Hi, Rachel.  I’m looking forward to the XGAMA Conference coming up.  I see you’re speaking and wondered if you could meet up for coffee beforehand so that I can help you get what you hope to out of the event. Please let me know if you can show up 20 minutes early.”

You could also invite them to call ahead, but be sure to make it a point to introduce yourself at the event. By then you probably will have established rapport and deepened it by associating your face with your name. 

With whatever they share with you about what they hope to get out of networking, be proactive in delivering it. If you get motivated my missions or games, make it one.  For example, give yourself 5 points for every lead you send another person’s way. Set a goal of 30 points. If you reach 30 points, treat yourself to a milkshake. 

 Do some homework on people. It can help to give you an idea of something you have in common and can use to build rapport. However, even though some of us keep our profile’s mostly public, there is such a thing as knowing too much. What’s fair game? Not kids! Nothing sets alerts off like people who know too much about my kids. Not neighborhoods, either, which is a bit too specific. Avoid scandals, as well. Politics and religion are usually considered taboo, but there is a context for them.

Big trips, public company initiatives, non-profit activities, industry trends, local developments, hobbies, and pop culture are usually safe enough to generate a good conversation that leads to deepening your understanding of another.  

Let’s remember that that is what this is about. You don’t have to mingle with everyone or hobnob with people you have nothing in common with, especially values. On the contrary, you’re there to find the few people who will become strategic partners with you in creating a better future. You’re looking for resonance. Much like a funnel, you might need to meet with 20 people to find 10 who are willing to talk further and then 4 or 5 with whom you will develop deep rapport and synergy. If you’re lucky, at least one of those will become a lifelong friend. 

Generate some questions and practice them.

Develop a powerful call to action. A 2016 blog shared a great formula and example for this. Since then I have enhanced it and created a builder for my clients and students. The enhanced formula is below:

I  am looking for introductions to [who],  who are experiencing [pain/challenge/initiative 1] and [pain/challenge/initiative 2]  so that I can  [solution/skill #1], [solution/skill #2], and [solution/skill #3] so that they can be/do/have [ultimate business outcome #1], [ultimate client/customer outcome #2], and [ultimate emotional outcome #3].

It’s ideal if instead of memorizing, you can hone one statement and become comfortable delivering it naturally. Then as you get comfortable, expand your database for each component for a different audience or to promote a different skill or outcome. It’s like doing Madlibs on the fly. The key to inspiring people to help you are the associated outcomes. The thing that makes your mission and value crystal clear and memorable is the emotional outcome. As logical as we think we are, most of our decisions are driven by emotions. Also, when someone confides in another about their work pain, the tendency is to share the emotional context of a story. This is what clicks for people the most, leading to a moment where you can say, “I know someone who complains about technology breaking” or “I know someone who would love to triumph in their finances!”  This is where the magic happens. 

Before you walk into an event, take a moment to ground and calm yourself. There is a meditation I teach my students and clients that enables you to slow your heart rate and embody your highest self, which makes you more confident and magnetic. There are a lot of meditations out there, any number of which will be beneficial. It matters less with what kind of meditation you do and matters more that you do it. Take some deep breaths. Remind yourself that no matter what, you are loved and whole. You are deserving of your ideal outcome. Then visualize what you intended yet again. 

In the next couple of weeks, we’ll cover more about how to ace networking in the moment, and how to carry the energy forward to make magic happen. 

Please share with us your stories of applying these tips.

 

Bruce Springsteen – I’m Ready (1974-06-03)

Uploaded by Johnny OnTheTop on 2014-06-01.

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

 

Networking 101 for the Network-Disabled: 9 Places to Find Networking Events for Beginners

Last week I shared that I was painfully friend-disabled in grade school and explained how I expanded my horizons and developed greater self-awareness and self-confidence.  These were lessons I carried with me to college, where I continued to be involved in various kinds of on and off-campus communities.

However, upon graduating I moved to the Jersey shore for a guy and my social circle was essentially his social circle.  I was working as a temp full-time, which created challenges in deepening my relationships with co-workers, and then also worked part-time several nights a week and weekends at a radio station. Time to expand my horizons into new communities was limited and I fell out of the habit. When the relationship started to deteriorate I tried living more independently. I moved into an apartment with a few strangers who were in very different stages of life than me when I was 21 years old. The woman who sublet to me, Denise, was 35-years old, one of my roommates, Frank, was 38-years old, and another, Jimmy, was 47 years old.  I imagine most readers would relate more to my roommates than me. Imagine living with the millennial at work. Now imagine that millennial was in an high-drama relationship.  The more my roommates tried to impart wisdom, the more I resisted. In the end, making new friends like the ones I had, failed. After a year in New Jersey, I made zero long-term friends. When the 6-month temp assignment ended I decided it was time to move back home, change careers, and end the relationship.

When I got back home I landed a job where they provided excellent sales and management training, but required you to work long days and cut people out of your life who were “neggin you out,” or being negative about the prospects of success in that job, which was commission-only. It was cultish. I reconnected with my old friend groups and fell out of the habit, and even awareness, of expanding my horizons and integrating with new groups…until years later when I was a junior IT recruiter and was advised to start networking.

It was like I forgot how to do this. I started by asking my co-workers where to network. They pointed me to some professional tech groups. One focused on individuals in tech and the other was a corporate membership base.   At the first meeting, I was asked to stand and give a 30-second commercial.  I spent the first half-hour terrified, trying to think of the perfect thing to say only to stumble and shake through it. People were friendly and forgiving though. I realized after a few events that people who go to these events WANT to meet other people, for the most part, and will either approach you or be approachable.

It’s okay to not jump in headfirst, instead dip your toes in the water and gradually expand your comfort zone. You’ll be less likely to procrastinate or put off networking if you do this.

There are several different events that you can participate in, including industry events, role-based events, geographically-based events, mission-oriented events, special interest events, culture-specific events, gender-specific events, and general events.

Source 1: Brainstorm

Have you ever used a brainstorming map? There are multiple tools available that will help you do this (we included one used to identify networking communities with our Dream Job Breakthrough System.)

Remember the song: Who are the people in your neighborhood? The people that you meet each day? With a piece of paper or the computer in front of you (using one of the many brainstorming tools available as an option) record the various communities of which you are a member.

Some of these people could include, your family, a group of friends, people you know through school, jobs, activities/hobbies, friends of other friends, your neighborhood, your town, civic groups, your kids’ or parents’ connections, etc. Highlight groups that have their own events, then highlight in a different color communities that don’t have organized gatherings, but that you would attend events if there were events.

Then make another list of interests, hobbies, causes, and topics close to your heart, whether you actively engage in them currently or not. Highlight the items in this list as you did before. You may need to do some research to determine if they do, indeed, have events. Future steps will help you with that.

Level-up tip:

Keep networking options open to include activities and topics that you enjoy. Statistics show most leads come from networking with contacts who are not necessarily in the same industry or profession, but rather who are people you connect with on a personal level. The key is knowing how to leverage the opportunity to share your professional goals and values. This is a naturally evolving subject once rapport is established. Future blogs will go into more detail.

 Source 2: Ask your co-workers, former co-workers, and friends in your industry/profession where they network

If you attend an event with someone, don’t stay attached to them, instead, work in partnership. Tell each other who you are there to meet and work as a partnership to find each other referrals. In fact, asking questions is not just easier than talking about yourself when you’re new to networking, but it’s a superior way to add value to your network.

Level-up tip:

Ask everyone you meet who they are there to meet, and proactively try to make connections for those you meet as well. After you spend a short amount of time learning from each other what you’re up to professionally, telling them you will send people their way if you find someone is a great, polite way to punctuate a networking conversation – I have found that to be the most awkward networking moment.

Source 3: Google it

This seems so obvious, but clients and students have been unclear with what keywords to use to find events. There are different types of events you can choose to attend, but it’s good to start with the one that feels less intimidating.

This is where the brainstorming map and the lists of events can be of assistance. The first criteria is location, meaning where you want to generate opportunities. If you plan on relocating, you’ll want to compile a list of events and discover when the best ones overlap in a time span so that you can plan your travel.  Traveling close to home is preferred for most people, but if your mission is to expand your horizons and you live in a small town, you may need to expand your geographic search to your county or several surrounding counties. Then add keywords related to your current or desired industry, profession/role, hobbies, causes, interests, topics, etc.

Level-up tip:

Boolean searches can help you search by multiple zip codes, but you may just find it easier to look for sites that aggregate events. EventUpon is such a site. EventUpon aggregates from other event posting sites, such as MeetUp and EventBrite, and from organizations, which I’ll talk about next.

 Source 4: EventUpon

If you have a free day and are looking to fill up your calendar space with an event, EventUpon is a great tool. You can also integrate with various calendar and scheduling apps you may already use.  If you have a favorite event venue, you may also be able to set up an alert for their events. I have found a few bugs with the geographic filters on Safari, which don’t appear right now to let you set a certain mile radius around a zip code, though it looks as though this feature was intended.

Level-up tip:

Like a job board, you can set up agents that will alert you to ongoing networking opportunities fitting your criteria.

Source 5: MeetUp

MeetUp has become a very popular site for many professional organizations with various chapters and subgroups that meet in-person, though it does support virtual events, such as webinars, as well. It’s also great for people with eclectic interests and hobbies. You might think you have alternative tastes until you search for groups related to them and find other people are organizing around the same topic.

Again, this is not just for professional interests. I am in groups related to mindset, books, animals, adventure, sports, side hustles, health, etc.  You usually have to join a group to see their event calendar, and many groups ask you to fill out some bio information, however, this is based on group admin preferences. Joining a group doesn’t necessarily obligate you to attend a meeting, but I have found some group admins are strict about their members attending or engaging and they may drop you if you fail to attend an event or if you RSVP to events with attendee limits and do not show up, for obvious reasons.

Some events are free, but the groups are not free to run and neither are events, so some will have paid events or promote donating to subsidize costs.

Level-up tip:

If you search for something and find that there is no actively running group right now, but it may tell you how many other people in your area have searched for the same thing. If you feel strongly about the subject, you might decide to set up a group yourself. LinkedIn’s group feature is a good option for this, however, there is a fee to running a LinkedIn group, which is currently $15/month. If you can afford this, try organizing your own group. You would have to think about where to meet, what kind of people you want to attract and the content that would attract those people, and the format of your meetings. You’ll also have to think about how to manage and maintain quality engagement in your community and how to deal with people who violate the safety and respect of your community.

Source 6: LinkedIn

Unlike Facebook, which has an event feature (and is another way to look for events), finding events on LinkedIn is trickier. You have to first search for organizations and event organizers, follow them, and stay on top of your home feed and notifications. You can crowdsource information there by using your status update to ask your network for advice on worthwhile events to attend.

Groups are one of the most powerful LinkedIn features, but not all groups enjoy high engagement and value. Look at profiles of people who have achieved what you aspire to achieve and see what groups they are in. Do this by scrolling all the way to the bottom where it shows interests and click “See All.” Links to groups will be found in a tab at the top of the window.

Level-up tip:

Help them help you by letting them know what you hope to get out of these events – the kinds of opportunities you want to generate, the kinds of people you want to meet, and the kinds of things you want to learn. It’s more haphazard, but doing this will also help you stay top of your connections and may generate additional engagement, leading to greater rapport and synergy.

Source 7: FaceBook Groups and Events

If you are on Facebook, you may only think about personal connections. You may even want to keep your personal and professional circles separate. That’s a personal choice you are free to make, however, it does limit your potential to generate opportunities. Assuming you want to cross-pollenate your spheres of influence, maximize opportunities, and find events that will be more comfortable, maybe even fun, you will search three places: Groups, Pages, and Events.

Groups may be closed, private, or open. Closed means an admin has to approve you. Private means it won’t show up in a search – you have to be invited. Open means anyone can join by clicking a button. Due to the nature of social media exchanges these days, most groups I engage in are closed or private. Here you can also look for professional, geographic, or special interest topics.

You can search for events, which I recommend if you happen to have a particular open spot on your calendar and you want to see what is happening at that particular time.

It’s difficult to hear people at certain kinds of events, particularly listening-room type music or movies. Go, but don’t expect to get much networking done. Find events where there are more interactive activities, such as art shows and community fairs.

Level-up tip:

See which of your friend have either said they were going to an event or are interested in going. Touch base and let them know that you’re hoping to meet new people and generate opportunities, but would like a buddy to network with.

Source 8: EventBrite

Many organizations use EventBrite for the ease of ticketing, payment integration, and social media sharing.  It automates confirmations and has other features, but it also has good searching capabilities, as it has a full list of events by categories which you can search through. Try searching through all categories that align with your interests, not just the professional ones.

You can also search for events that are free versus paid, in case you have a low budget for networking.

Level-up tip:

Still search for paid events, even if you have a low or no budget. You can contact the organizer and offer to volunteer in lieu of the attendance fee. You may not be able to get all the content of that event as a volunteer, but you have an elevated position of visibility to the attendees and the organizers. It gives you the chance to demonstrate how you add value, rather than just telling people how you add value, which can generate better opportunity

Source 9: Business Journals

Business Journals have directories and lists of companies, organizations, etc that hold and promote events. There are a lot of great ways to get value from a subscription to your closest city’s business journal.  However, you don’t have to have a paid subscription, you can just sign up for a daily or weekly digest and get notifications about events.  Some of these events can be pricey, so you may want to find out who in your network works for a company that is investing in a table, and then see if the company has an open seat, or tell them that you’d like to go in case someone can’t go at the last minute. These events will put you right in the middle of people who are game-changers or movers and shakers in business. Unless you go and talk to no one, it would be hard to not gain value from attending.

 Level-up tip:

When Business Journals announce award winners, grants, or fundraiser winners, use LinkedIn to send the person a congratulatory message and invitation to connect. Let them know that you’d like to learn how you can help them get the most traction from the publicity and invite them to a brief call or coffee. If someone is being honored at an event, contact them ahead of time and ask them if they’d like to meet before or after. You may also check out the corporate sponsors and speakers to do the same.

Once you get the hang of navigating networking events, you may also want to look into industry conferences at your local Chambers of Commerce, Rotary Clubs, Toastmasters International chapters, or Business Networking International chapters (for business owners or sales representatives), and more.

Next week we’ll talk about how to best prepare for a networking event so that you can show up as your best self and leverage it optimally.

The Chi-lites “Have you seen her”

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Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.