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Via The Ladders : Here’s how to get more out of networking events

Buy tickets to a networking event. Get there, buckled up for a cookie-cutter experience of going from one panel to the next. Only talk to other attendees during breaks and cocktail receptions, then rush to the next session.

Instead of doing the same thing you always do, we’d like to call your attention to a piece Humanyze CEO and co-founder and MIT Media Lab visiting scientist Ben Waber, PhD wrote for Quartz at Work about his approach to networking.

Unimpressed by a Fortune 100 CEO’s talk that he was looking forward to at a conference, he had a conversation with someone feeling the same way afterward — someone, as it turns out, who became a future client.

Waber notes that the chance to connect with and be of service to others who are “like-minded” is the most crucial part of these events, as opposed to the content. Then he writes that at another conference, which was wasn’t as long ago, he spent 12 hours going to talks all around the area, taking a small shuttle to each location. He decided to talk to a fellow rider every time.

So the following day, he just rode around instead of going to talks — and met dozens of people, some of whom have helped his career.

With Waber’s example in mind, here are some strategies could help you stand out for all the right reasons when everyone is trying to make a name for themselves at conferences and networking events.

Take a page out of Waber’s book

Yes, we know: You’re most likely paying good money to learn from the featured panelists at conferences, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for more innovative approaches for getting what you want from the total experience.

So do as Waber says he did, and have the guts to say “no” to talks, so you can spend more time getting to know other attendees instead.

“As you go to conferences, try to create these opportunities for yourself. Skip a speaker session and instead resolve to talk to one new person every 15 minutes,” Waber writes. “Hang out by the coffee pot and strike up a conversation. While you can’t be assured that every one of these conversations will be useful to you both, chances are it’ll be more valuable than going to a talk that you’ll forget in a few weeks.”

Reach out on social media beforehand

I tried this once and it really worked in my favor.

One summer, just before attending a conference for my four-summer internship program at CNBC through The Emma Bowen Foundation, I reached out via Twitter to speakers on the roster.

While asking a question at the microphone during a panel with a CNBC media personality I reached out to, I introduced myself to her, and she announced that she’d remembered me from Twitter.

We’d never met, so I gave her my business card afterward during our conversation, and I’ve considered her a mentor ever since. I shadowed her in the field on multiple occasions during my internships at CNBC, and we still keep in contact.

Use a compliment as an icebreaker — but mean it

This just might break you out of your comfort zone.

U.S. News & World Report staff writer Laura McMullen features icebreakers from Michelle Tillis Lederman, author of “The 11 Laws of Likability” and CEO of the professional development firm Executive Essentials, among others, in the publication.

One of them is “great shoes!”

“If you notice something you admire about these new contacts … tell them! (Who doesn’t like receiving a compliment?),” McMullen writes.

Via Huffington Post : How To Network: A Guide For Introverts

For those who can’t imagine anything worse.

Even for the most confident workers, networking can be a daunting prospect. And if you’re an introvert, it can be downright terrifying.

But unfortunately, in many fields, networking is a necessary evil. You’re not going to make new contacts or meet new people from the safety of your cubicle.

So how can you survive the intimidating prospect of walking into a room of people you don’t know (without burying your face in your phone the whole time) and network successfully?

HuffPost Australia spoke to Janine Garner, CEO, networking specialist and author of ‘It’s Who You Know’ to find out.

HP: What do you think it is about networking that people hate so much?

Janine Garner: “We hate networking because we have made it so hard — we are overwhelmed with the choices available to network, it’s becoming complicated with how, what and where, we are all stretched for time and given the superficial nature of most networking (insert business card swapping fest) we are over it and questioning the real purpose behind it.”

What makes someone successful at networking?

JG: “Those that are successful at networking quite simply care. They care about the other person first and foremost, their success and what help they need.

“They engage deeply in conversation, are always curious about how they can help and make a point of following up and following through on any promises they make.

“Successful networkers understand that building relationships requires an investment of time, energy and interest and that it is a long game.”

What are the most common struggles people have with networking?

JG: “The most common struggles people have revolve all around themselves and being in their own head — ‘I’m an introvert, I’m nervous, what do I say, how do I make sure I am interesting, what if I need to leave the conversation?’

“The obsession with self gets in the way. I suggest people have to get out of their own way and instead focus intently on the person they are speaking to, listen deeply to understand and concentrate on being present.

“And if you err on the introversion side follow your energy — the worse thing you can do as an introvert is go to an event with thousands of people — instead organise a lunch of six people or a coffee date — that’s networking. And if you have to go to that big event plan your exit time and be okay with having a deep conversation with one or two people.

What is the first thing you should do when you enter a networking event?

JG: “For me its about preparation — why are the attending the event, who else is going, who would you like to meet? When you enter the event start connecting straight away — say hi to the person at the check-in, take a deep breath and say hi to the first person you meet — quite simply start the conversation.

“And if you are worrying about what to say, ask them questions first to get them talking so you can ultimately find some common ground. Some great opening questions could be ‘What brought you here today?’ ‘What is the biggest challenge you are facing right now in your business?’ ‘That sounds interesting tell me more’.”

Any tips on how to introduce yourself/infiltrate a group of people who are already talking?

JG: “Take a big deep breath, approach and simply say ‘Hi my name is xxx, I’m here on my own today is it okay to join in your conversation.’

What are the biggest networking no-nos?

JG: “We all hate those rubber-neckers — you know the ones — the ones that are talking to you, but not really listening, their eyes are looking around searching out who else is in the room that may be more interesting, more important or more influential.

“The biggest no-no is not to be present in that moment. Focus on who you are speaking with, be interested in what they are saying and remove all distractions.”

What should you do if the conversation is stilted/awkward?

JG: “If the conversation is stilted and not going anywhere quite simply remove yourself from the conversation. You are at a networking function for a reason — it’s to meet people.

“Excuse yourself by going to get a drink or a trip to the bathroom. And its okay to explain that you came to this event to meet some new people, say it’s been lovely to meet you and excuse yourself politely so you can go and meet some other people.”

Do people still hand out their business cards or is that not done any more?

JG: “Some do, some don’t. Networking isn’t about handing out business cards — it’s about meeting people, connecting and sharing. LinkedIn is the worlds biggest rolodex!”

Any other tips you might have?

JG: “Networking is a choice — you can either choose to be superficial in your approach and realise the opportunity that exists when you build relationships through listening carefully and engaging in conversation.

“Time is our scarcest resource and therefore invest your time wisely building a network that works that will stretch your thinking, develop your mastery and open doors to new opportunities. Networking matters, but it’s the network of you that you develop that matters more.”

Via Huffington Post : Eight Ways You Can Determine Which Networking Invitations to Accept

Regardless of where you are in your career, networking is something you need to keep in mind. When you’re first starting out, you want to get in touch with a good number of different people and groups in order to establish connections and help each other out where you can. Later in your career, networking is an excellent opportunity to give back, helping people starting out get their feet wet and in touch with mentors or peers. As you get more settled in business, you may find that you get more networking event invitations than you know what to do with. Some are from people within your wider network, while others are for public events seeking to draw a diverse crowd.

You only have so much time and resources to dedicate to events, so how do you determine which invitations to accept, and which to politely decline? Members from Young Entrepreneur Council suggest the following:

A. Determine If It’s Mutually Beneficial
I try to do quick research on the opportunity. Is it a person or group I might be able to conduct business with or learn from? Do I have experience that might benefit them or the group? If so, then I consider it. If I don’t see an immediate benefit for either party, I move on, or table for later. While I believe in growing a large network of connections, being focused wins. – Shawn Schulze, CallerCenter.com

A. Know When to Decline
We honestly get hundreds of recommendations and networking invitations every month. While many of them are great, one of the best ways to weed out the good from the bad is to choose ones that you know are attended or recommended by other friends, partners or experts within your industry. Networking and time are always going to be important, but knowing when to say no is also key. – Zac Johnson, Blogger

A. Only Accept Leveraged Invites
Endless meet-ups without strategic focus will kill your business. I’ve made that mistake by accepting coffee meetings and party invites without a strategic agenda. After wasting thousands of dollars, I now only accept leveraged invites. This means there is an agenda with real focus where either I can give back or my company can scale as a direct result of the connection. – Klyn Elsbury, Landmark Makers

A. Try the ‘Today’ Test
It’s often easy to accept networking events that are weeks away when your calendar is open. For every event invitation that you receive, ask yourself, “If this event was today, would I attend, assuming that I was available?” If the answer is yes, it’s probably beneficial. If you have higher priorities today than to attend, there’s a good chance you’ll feel the same way when that event rolls around. – Lisa Curtis, Kuli Kuli Inc.

A. Favor Curated Networking Events
I tend to accept invites where the host has thoughtfully curated who will be at the event. When the host has put thought into making sure guests will connect in a meaningful way, I end up making a few key connections, as opposed to bigger events, where it is harder to find connections that will resonate, because it’s too easy to get lost in the crowd. – Diana Goodwin, AquaMobile

A. Look for Natural Networking
To keep myself effective and genuine, I try to focus on events where networking seems like it will come naturally. Often this means focusing on personalized invitations to small gatherings in the community, rather than attending larger conferences and events, where hundreds of unconnected entrepreneurs will be. – Peggy Shell, Creative Alignments

A. Pay Attention to How They Reached Out to You
It is very easy to spot the canned invitations to connect. LinkedIn is the king of unwanted, canned invitations. Instead, look for people who go out of their way to make a connection with you. Typically they will do it in less-common platforms such as Snapchat or Instagram, maybe even by email. If someone truly cares to connect with you, they will go out of their way to do so. – Diego Orjuela, Cables & Sensors

A. Remember: A Good Fit is Crucial
Finding events or masterminds that fit you and your business are key. Business and personal needs vary drastically from person to person. Strive to match yourself with equal or slightly higher caliber attendees. This ensures you continue to grow and network with those that can provide value. Find reviews or a past attendee list and compare yourself. Will you fit in? If so, then give it a try! – Kyle Goguen, Pawstruck

These answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

Via Madison.com : Is Networking Really That Important?

Every person you meet in both your professional and personal life might be the one who makes a key introduction for you later. That makes doing the groundwork of networking one of the most important things any person can do when it comes to advancing their career.

If you’re outgoing and unafraid of introducing yourself to strangers, making connections and networking may come naturally for you.

But if you’re shy or a bit introverted, it can be a painful process. Even so, it’s still important: You have to find ways to put yourself out there and create the network that may someday help you get where you want to go.

Whether it’s a cocktail party or a formal industry event, it’s important to meet people and build a network. Image source: Getty Images.

What is networking
Networking goes beyond just meeting people. It’s the process of creating a far-flung group of contacts that will theoretically help you advance your career. Creating that network involves connecting with people, and forging a bond that’s a bit deeper than just having them know your name.

In my early career when I traveled to trade shows, I took pictures of every person I spent time with (with an actual camera). Each night I made notes on the person, writing down some highlights of our conversation. If he or she had kids, liked the Red Sox, or was traveling to France, I made note of it in order to build the connection by having that personal knowledge at hand for the next time we met.

What can networking do for you?
Would you rather walk into a room where nobody knows you or walk into one where an acquaintance introduces you to a few people? Even if you still have to meet a lot of strangers, having a few warm contacts makes everything easier.

Some people may not genuinely love helping others, but most like being a hero. If someone in your network knows you are looking for a job and can recommend you to someone who needs to hire someone, that person becomes a hero to two people. Of course, some people do just want to help, and having them in your network can give you an advocate when you most need one.

Networking can be the difference
When many jobs come open, the person doing the hiring gets inundated with resumes. In many cases, more than a few people applying have the requisite qualifications, at least on paper.

If someone in your network knows the person doing the hiring, or even someone at the company, he or she can put a word in for you. That won’t get you the job, but it could get you an interview and at least a chance to sell yourself. In addition, if you and another candidate grade out similarly, the hiring person may go with you because of the indirect personal connection.

Networking isn’t easy
My biggest professional regret is that for the first 15 or so years of my now 24-year working life I did a bad job of keeping up with my connections. I networked plenty and met a lot of people, but in the days before social media, I let many of those connections slip away.

Now people have fewer excuses because technology makes it easier to keep in touch with people. Once you meet someone you can keep up the networking by engaging in an appropriate digital conversation. That has to be more than just sending a birthday greeting because Facebook tells you to. In general, it means sending a thoughtful message or even picking up a phone a few times a year to maintain the actual connection.

This is where the value of networking can increase exponentially. There’s a difference between someone having vague, fond feelings for you and him or her knowing you well enough to pick up the phone or send an email for you.

You must network
The broader your network, the easier your career will be. As you get more experienced networking become a two-way street as you will be able to help both younger people and those who once helped you.

If you choose to not network or let your relationships wither, you make your career harder and will likely lose out on opportunities. Building and nurturing your network may be the single most important thing (aside from being good at your job) in your working life.

Do it well and everything gets easier, more doors open for you, and more opportunities come your way. Fail to network well and you will see things you want go to other people as you say “if only I knew someone who could make an introduction.”

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via PR NewsThree Tips to Make Networking Successful and a Lifelong Activity

Look around your office. More than half the people you see may be looking for a new job. A Harris Poll in Indeed’s Talent Attraction Study found 71% of those in the labor force say they are looking or open to a new opportunity.

This is indicative of an empowered workforce. With a breadth of job boards, research tools, headhunters, recruitment agencies and career coaches ready, willing and available, the options seem endless.

The reality is that most people land jobs when resorting to good, old-fashioned networking. “At least 60%—some report even higher statistics—of all jobs are found by networking,” career consultant Alison Doyle writes at The Balance.

It’s imperative to make networking a lifelong commitment. At a certain point in our lives and careers we can easily become complacent in our roles and surroundings. We need to be sure to make an effort to invest personally, professionally, intellectually and socially in those individuals strategically placed in our path.

After college, I entered the workforce with a personal commitment to invest as much in the people I encountered as in the job itself. Whether your career has brought you to a brand, a PR agency or perhaps you work as an independent practitioner, the collegial relationships you proactively build as a result of networking can prove invaluable.

As communicators, we effortlessly excel at building rapport, engaging our connections and clients and leveraging established relationships. We carefully nurture these relationships as a natural course of business. Networking to gather intelligence may provide a competitive advantage, especially as silos between PR and marketing continue to dissipate and the PR industry evolves.

Below is a triad of innovative ways to approach networking from a practitioner whose communications and PR career began with a bird’s-eye view of a newsroom, moved to managing media, took her upstairs inside a boardroom and a few stops in between before arriving at PRSA:

Get Personal

You’ve established and amassed a plethora of contacts and added them to your smartphone and LinkedIn profile. These are virtual connections, courtesy of communications technology; however, what is your level of engagement with them? Have you reached out to contact them or do they receive an occasional automated notification when you’ve refreshed your profile? Why not be creative and differentiate yourself with a personalized, quarterly digital newsletter?

There’s a good chance you’ll be more effective in soliciting thoughtful feedback and fostering deeper, real-life dialogue. Try to avoid sending a standard, generic distribution to your entire contact list. Instead, make time to tailor your list. Address contacts by referencing the capacity in which you worked together, scenario in which you partnered or insight they’ve helped provide you.

Be a Joiner

By mid-career, you are (or should be) a member of a professional industry or trade association that provides access to enhanced skills development, seminars, conferences or local chapter meetings and events. If not, it’s time to join.

Use these forums as your next opportunity to be in the moment, unplugged from your laptop and smartphone and be truly present—especially in a room full of strangers. Networking is merely a continuum of the lifelong collection of conversations and interactions that stem from a lunch, dinner, social invitations, backyard barbeques, volunteer activities, religious and community organizations and continuing education seminars. Such settings organically lend themselves to the potential for connection and interaction. They are just another forum or venue that can present an opportunity to practice and enhance your communication skills.

Experiential, in-person communication evokes emotion and enthusiasm. It can set the tone for more authentic conversation where you share your sphere of influence.

Develop Your Message

Networking becomes most successful when you empower your connections and contacts and portray and articulate a clear image of your brand. You become an expert self-marketer by blending available digital talent solutions and resources with innate abilities and soft skills.

When discussing career aspirations, be prepared to communicate specifics such as the types of opportunities you would consider, concrete objectives and tangible ways in which the person may be of assistance. You also may be looking for professional introductions that lead to alternative employment, part-time, consulting or perhaps contract opportunities. Whatever the goal, your demeanor, persona and candor make you a walking business card. Be certain to practice and perfect your 30-second commercial. This is your advertisement, that perfectly succinct summation of your professional achievement, translatable skill set, strengths and objectives. You exemplify your brand, so exude talent, confidence and credibility.

You’ll find throughout the years that your coalition of contacts, peers and industry leaders are equally as engaged and invested in your success. When you make a conscious effort, lifelong networking breeds mentors, advocates, references and, sometimes, future employers. These individuals will most likely prove themselves to be your strongest proponents, greatest supporters and closest allies, offering an unwavering show of support.