The Arch Way: Networking
“It’s not what you know, it’s not who you know, it’s who knows you!”
No matter what industry you are in, the ability to get along with people is essential. Forming new relationships are crucial because they can get you a step ahead. But networking is about being authentic, creating connections and serving others!
Here are 20 networking tips to nurture your network!
20 NETWORKING TIPS
TIME IS MONEY
To be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late, to be late is to be unacceptable! Mentally schedule the event in your mind 15 minutes before it actually starts and set an alarm or a calendar invite to give yourself extra buffer room for things like traffic or unexpected calls!
Keep your questions simple, casual and conversational (avoid religion and politics).
“What brings you to this event?” “How can I connect you to someone in my circle? Avoid blanket statements like ‘hey, what’s up?” or ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response questions like “Do you….? ” and instead ask “how do you feel about this….?” People love to talk about things like travel, food, movies or books so share a few anecdotes or shows you recently binge watched and allow them to respond.
DITCH THE SALES PITCH
Keep your intro short, sweet and simple! Have a plan on your pitch but keep it informal! People have short attention spans so in a few sentences they should be able to know a few, key nuggets about who you are, what you like, a fun fact or two, and why you’re here! You are your brand!
(Here’s mine: I am an engineer turned storyteller. I have lived in 4 continents. I competed and won a game show with Snoop Dogg!”)
ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY
People may not know what you do so give a one sentence analogy in simple terms. It may be useful to give practical examples like “I help design the user options when you log on to your online banking statement” or “I work for a start-up and develop the code for our security app!”
(Here’s mine: Every single day, I pitch, produce and present news stories impacting our community to 15 stations across 5 states in the south east as an Atlanta based correspondent.)
POWER OF PASSION
Speak with confidence, energy and just be genuine! If you don’t believe in you, no one will! Explain why you are passionate, what motivates you and who you find inspiring! When you speak remember to project your voice, pause periodically and pace accordingly (think voice inflection or build up excitement).
SHARE THE CONVERSATION
Don’t hijack the conversation – you want to share your story but also listen to others’ opinions! It’s always better to ask and learn about someone before sharing your story. Don’t just ask a laundry list of questions but bounce of ideas to show your curiosity and compassion!
Listen more, talk less, smile, firm handshake, stand straight, ditch your phone and avoid “working” the room! It is so important to be in the moment and be present!
Proactively follow up via phone, email or social media within 48 hours and add value. This could mean sharing a useful link, recommending a book/show/group to join, creating a connection, reviewing a resume/reel etc… Ask your contact what mode of communication they prefer and set up google calendar alerts/invites for future meetings!
(PRO TIP: Create a google spreadsheet to convert your business cards or contacts into valuable information with columns like name, phone, email, location, company, focus area and notes on where you met)
Be specific on what type of help you need and ask to get introduced to a network! The more clear and specific your ask is, the better your response will be. If you are job hunting, be direct on what type of job(s) you are qualified for. If you want feedback on your work, ask for specific areas. If you want to be connected to someone, ask politely and why.
ASK FOR RECOMMENDATIONS
People may ask how can I help you — especially before leaving a job — get a recommendation on LinkedIN! You can also consolidate feedback from clients, peers, managers etc… on a website with testimonials!
Identify people to mentor and have as your mentor — and ask for specific help! Always build your mentor/mentee base. Remember, the more you give, the more you get! Your mentor could be someone younger than you who is really adept with the latest social media app. Your mentor could be someone in a completely different industry who can see the big picture. Life is always about creating and cultivating connections and forging meaningful relationships. Keep tabs on the people you mentor too and offer them honest guidance, feedback or recommendations on things like trainings or useful articles!
STAY IN TOUCH
Networking is building relationships so get a business card and stay in touch by sharing articles, asking for feedback and connecting people in your network. Networking is not being an opportunist. Networking allows you to get to know people behind their job title and help them grow personally and professionally.
(PRO TIP: A lot of “jobs” or connections happen because people remember you for who you are and what skills you can bring. Even if you aren’t looking for a job now, remember to be consistent with what type of work and brand image you portray).
People will remember how you make them feel so wish them on their birthdays, anniversaries or congratulate them on their work promotions. Ask beyond “what do you do” and get to know them as a person (their non-work goals, their hobbies, their dream job. their heroes). Share a personal story or two and it’s okay to talk about your failures! You show your human side when you talk about a time you got laid off. You become more relatable when you talk about missteps in your career (or personal life) and how you bounced back from it. At the core of it, everyone has a story. It’s your job to ask the right questions to discovery that story and earn trust for that person to share it with you.
AVOID WORKING THE ROOM
It’s not about quantity – you want to have good, meaningful conversations and create a lasting impression and not just meeting and hoarding business cards. Try connecting on social media instead of handing out paper cards! You can have a number goal in mind as well like meet 3 new people today which is fine. You don’t want to do just do speed networking and meet 30 people with no substantial contacts. You can also cut to the chase and avoid small talk if you feel someone is trying to “sell” you on something. While their time is precious, so is yours!
If you are talking to two people, try to see if someone is lost or find a way to include them into the conversation. It is always easier to introduce someone else than brag about yourself! A fun networking ice-breaker is to have each person introduce someone else. Again, the key here is to listen ask engaging questions!
TRY TO VOLUNTEER OR TAKE A CLASS
Try and take a new class or join a group to meet new people and attend industry related events. You can join work organizations as well or set up coffee dates with people at your company to get mentorship or advice on your career goals but try to do it after work hours. Networking is an on-going habit and doesn’t just happen overnight.
(Here’s mine: I got involved with an improv theater and built relationships with people both in class and during shows.)
DON’T WAIT FOR A NETWORKING EVENT
You can network with the person next to you on the plane, or with your barista or even the person washing their hands in the restroom! That may be a little creepy or awkward but you get the drift. You have to be comfortable with yourself, take a little dose of courage, and strike up a meaningful conversation. Networking can be done in person, via email, on the phone or on social media. But what makes a good network is finding ways to “add value” and help the other person reach their goals.
MANAGING YOUR CONTACTS
Store your contacts in a google spreadsheet, or your phone, or through an app like SAM CARD (that clicks business cards) or a rolodex, or a notebook and set reminders to reach out. You can also create separate tabs for different group(s) so that you manage your network wisely. Create a column that also lists their ‘interests’ and ‘work expertise areas.’
HAVE A NUMBER
Try to meet ONE new person a week or set a goal on how many people you at least want to meet at an event and then reward yourself — remember quality time with these people on meaningful conversations — even if they are not in your industry!
GIVE AND DON’T EXPECT
Help others without expecting anything in return – connect them, listen to them, ask for advice, perhaps offer them a solution, follow up on their goals, and get to know them! People want inspiration and a reason to work with you. Maybe you are a solid writer, maybe you are really good at number crunching, or maybe you are the “go to” person when it comes to new recipes or drinks! You also have to know what you are an expert in and build that into your brand.
TOP 10 NETWORKING TIPS
BE PUNCTUAL, PROFESSIONAL, POSITIVE + POLITE
SMILE, GOOD EYE CONTACT, FIRM HANDSHAKE, BODY POSTURE
ASK ENGAGING QUESTIONS WITH ENERGY & ENTHUSIASM
SHARE YOUR PASSIONS, VISIONS & CHALLENGES CLEARLY
KEEP YOUR STORY SHORT, SWEET + SIMPLE – NO SALES PITCHES
SPECIFY WHAT HELP YOU WANT + ASK TO GET CONNECTED
PROACTIVELY CONNECT PEOPLE WITHIN YOUR CIRCLE
BUILD RELATIONSHIPS – SHARE ARTICLES, RECOGNIZE PEOPLE
CULTIVATE YOUR BRAND, BE AN EXPERT, OFFER ADDED VALUE
FOLLOW UP WITHIN 48 HOURS (EMAIL, PHONE, SOCIAL MEDIA)
SAMPLE NETWORKING QUESTIONS
WHAT IS ONE THING YOU PLAN TO ACCOMPLISH BEFORE THE END OF THE YEAR?
WHAT ARE YOUR TOP THREE DREAM DESTINATIONS TO VISIT?
WHAT IS THE MOST EXCITING THING THAT’S HAPPENED TO YOU THIS YEAR?
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FOOD/RESTAURANT OR ADULT BEVERAGE AND WHY?
WHAT’S THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED?
WHAT’S THE BEST PART OF YOUR JOB?
WHAT GENRE OF BOOKS/MOVIES DO YOU LIKE AND WHY?
WHAT ARE THE FIRST THREE THINGS YOU DO WHEN YOU GET UP?
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE WORD AND WHY?
DESCRIBE YOUR BRAND IN THREE WORDS!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE QUOTE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE TO DO OUTSIDE OF WORK?
WHAT ARE YOUR THREE HIDDEN OR UNUSUAL TALENTS?
WHAT IS YOUR MOST PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENT SO FAR?
SOMEONE IS PUBLISHING YOUR AUTOBIOGRAPHY — WHAT IS YOUR BOOK TITLED?
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE OR MOST USED EMOJI?
WHAT GAME SHOW WOULD YOU COMPETE ON AND WHY?
WHAT WAS YOUR DREAM JOB GROWING UP AS A KID?
WHAT ARE THE THINGS YOU ARE MOST GRATEFUL FOR RIGHT NOW?
WHAT IS SOMETHING ON YOUR BUCKET LIST THAT SEEMS IMPOSSIBLE TO ACHIEVE?
WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST MISTAKE OR REGRET AND WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM IT?
WHAT TYPE OF LEADER ARE YOU AND HOW HAS YOUR STYLE EVOLVED?
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
YOU ARE GIVEN A TIME MACHINE — WHAT YEAR DO YOU TRAVEL TO AND WHY?
WHAT ARE THREE SOCIAL CAUSES YOU ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT?
WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS DO YOU LOVE AND HATE?
WHAT IS YOUR DINNER PARTY THEME OF CHOICE AND WHAT ARE YOU SERVING?
IF YOU COULD DESIGN YOUR OWN DRINK, WHAT WOULD BE IN IT AND WHAT WOULD YOU CALL IT?
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM MOVIE ROLE AND WHO WOULD STAR IN IT WITH YOU?
YOU ARE GIVEN SEED MONEY FOR A STARTUP. WHAT WILL YOU CREATE?
YOU FIND OUT A SECRET ABOUT YOUR BEST FRIEND’S SPOUSE MOMENTS BEFORE THE WEDDING. WHAT DO YOU DO?
YOU ARE SELECTED TO BE A CONTESTANT ON CHOPPED! WHAT ROUND WILL YOU EXCEL IN (APPETIZER, ENTREE, OR DESSERT) AND WHAT DISH DO YOU MAKE?
IF YOU WERE TO TRADE PLACES WITH SOMEONE LIVING OR DEAD, WHO WOULD YOU PICK AND WHY?
WHO ARE YOUR REAL LIFE HEROES?
YOU WIN A SCRATCH-OFF LOTTERY TICKET. WHAT ARE THE FIRST 3 THINGS YOU BUY?
YOU RUN LATE TO YOUR DREAM JOB INTERVIEW. HOW DO YOU CONVINCE THE RECRUITER TO MEET YOU AND STILL HIRE YOU?
YOUR BOSS OFFERS YOU A PROMOTION BUT IT COMES WITH MORE TRAVEL. WHAT DO YOU DO?
YOU START OWN CLOTHING AND FRAGRANCE LINE – WHAT DO YOU CALL IT AND WHAT’S THE TAG LINE?
WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST OBSTACLE YOU HAVE EVER FACED AND WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM IT?
DESCRIBE YOUR LIFE PURPOSE IN 3 SENTENCES!