Chloe, a dear brook reader asked for advice on networking so I compiled a list from what I learned and still learning about the art of networking.
Here are some tips:
1- Attend tons of events:
The best thing to do is join organizations in your town. An Ad Club, marketing organizations, fun meetups etc. Basically, get involved. That’s your first step to networking. By attending events that interest you, you’re more likely to meet people with similar interests as yours.
2- Put yourself out there:
When at an events, don’t be shy to approach people. Chances are, they’re there to network as well. Just be yourself and approach them and say hello and ask how long they’ve been involved in the organization or if they know anyone there or ask what they thought of the panel etc
Don’t forget that you can also network online! Using Twitter or Linkedin, you can approach people by Retweeting their tweets and asking a question, by suggesting an article then get the conversation going. I approach a lot of people online, I ask for advice on my portfolio, I congratulate them on their new book or award or whatever. Your imagination is the limit on how to approach people, especially busy people.
3- Listen more than talk.
I get really turned off when I meet someone at an event and they’re on “Networking” mode, and by that I mean that they approach you and start talking about who they are, where they work, when they graduated… I feel like I’m reading their Linkedin profile! Don’t do that. First, don’t forget that this is real life, you can’t sounds like a machine. You should be conversational and be yourself. Second, no one wants to listen to someone talk about themselves. Instead, be genuinly interested in them, ask them questions, then listen to them, try to get to know and wait for them to ask you back before you start going on and on about yourself 🙂 Trust me, I learned the hard way.
4- Don’t do this:
Okay, this is one of my pet peeves. I hate when someone approaches you and asks: Hi, I’m john, where do you work???
Here is why I don’t like that. When you ask someone where they work, it’s like telling them: I’m not interested in you as a person, im only interested in the agency you work at because I’m trying to get in there. To me, that’s a turn off. You want to build relationships and make friends, and by doing that, jobs opportunities will come. On that note…
5- Build Relationships:
So, here you are at a big event, you meet all these cool people, you exchange business cards, you’re pumped and all, well, it doesn’t end there. A lot of people never follow up, because following up takes some effort and people don’t go that extra mile. This is your chance to stand out. A couple of days after the event, send a note saying that it was nice meeting them, that you’d love to meet for coffee or keep in touch. And do keep in touch because you’ll see them again, one day.
6- Network with your peers:
Most people want to meet people who are older and have more experience, while that’s good, you shouldn’t forget about the little people, just kidding! Don’t forget about people like you, juniors, people your age. Trust me on this, your peers are more likely to help you get your next job, plus you’ll gain a buddy along the way. Remember: Juniors Unite! I know a bunch of people at agencies who were recommended by their friends and got hired instead of those who didn’t know anyone at the agency. It’s the way it is. Make tons of friends. Facebook friends, Twitter friends, Linkedin friends and most importantly, real friends.
Before going to an event, or emailing someone. Do your homework. Find out everything you can about them. Just by looking at their tweets and Linkedin profile, it’ll give you an idea of who they are. Find something you have in common with them and mention it casually, don’t make it sound like you spent 2 hours stalking them. Also, if you think they’re laid back, then write a very casual email, if they’re more “formal”, don’t put smiley faces on your email. Same thing applies for an event.
8- Be a go-getter:
Litteraly, just go and ge’em! Go mingle, go have fun. At the end of the day, people will remember you for your enthusiasm and your fun personality.