Making The Connection: A Networking Guide

YOU have the capability and confidence to walk into a room and meet new people! It’s all about shifting your perspective.

Written by
Marcus Styles
Brand Creator + Business Connector
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10 Minutes
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May 22, 2024
Curated by
Marcus Styles
Brand Creator + Business Connector
10 Minutes
white calendar icon
May 22, 2024

We all have our own love-hate relationship with networking. My relationship with networking started in college. At the time, networking felt cliquey, unapproachable, and I found myself lost in a sea of people huddled together. I enjoyed forging new relationships but couldn't figure out what was wrong with networking events. 

After years of attending various events, I realized they weren’t always executed well and lacked intention. With the growth of technology the distance between us grows larger and networking isn't evolving with it. Event planners will find a venue, order something quick, and invite professionals to stand in a boring looking office to get to know each other. 

We have lost the intention of bringing people together. If you've had a bad past experience with networking events it's not your fault. Something most networking events get wrong: They don't always make people feel comfortable and they make you overcompensate your goals.

We are going to rewrite networking history and give you the tools you need to network like a professional. 

What is networking?

Networking is the act of forging new connections. It involves putting yourself out there to connect with people within your industry to partner, sharing knowledge, and resources.

How does networking benefit you?

A carefully crafted network allows you to reach different places you may not have been able to reach alone. Porter Gale, author of Your Network Is Your Net Worth, wrote “I believe that your social capital, or your ability to build a network of authentic personal and professional relationships, not your financial capital, is the most important asset in your portfolio. I believe that seeking out and working in collaboration with others who share your interests and values will provide a stronger foundation, enabling you to reach a higher level of success than you would on your own. Therefore, I believe that your ‘net worth’ will be based, not on the size of your portfolio or the size of your network, but on your ability to define and stay true to your passions and values; and that working with other people who share them will allow you to build a strong and enduring interpersonal safety net that will carry you through any financial calamity to greater output and personal fulfillment”. 

Here are some tips and tricks to help you network:

#1 Be Yourself

In preparation, take a deep breath and get out of your head. When attending your next networking event, know that you don't have to know exactly who you are, you just need to know what you're doing. 

From experience, I can say that there is no perfect time to network because we are all imperfect. The reality is people attend these events because they are interested in expanding their network and learning about others in their community. You could walk into the room and possibly meet someone who can help you launch your business or propel your career.

If you don’t immediately connect with someone, don’t feel discouraged! There are so many people out there who will see your value. Focus on those people and invest your time into them.

#2 Set an Objective

After you are able to be yourself, set an objective you are capable of achieving. One thing that is overwhelming about networking events is that we are conditioned to believe we need to talk to everyone in the room. That is incorrect!

Networking is not how many people you are connected with, it's the quality of the connections you develop. When networking, make a list of specific people you would like to meet.

Ex.: I would like to meet 3 artists and creators in this area who would be interested in showcasing their art in my art gallery.

Remember that your object is not a sale, it's a specific goal that you can achieve. No one goes to networking events to close deals, so shift your sales perspective to focus on meeting specific people.

Bonus Tip: It’s equally beneficial for you to connect with someone who has a network of the people you're looking for. In the long run they can get you a variety of people.

#3 Prepare your elevator pitch

Something we all struggle with at one time or another is we do not talk about ourselves correctly. We can be very closed-in without an outside perspective. Overcome this by understanding the science behind an elevator pitch.

Your elevator pitch is a 30 second introduction of yourself and what you do. Remove the stress of what to say and get out a piece of paper and ask yourself who you are and what you do. Turn that into a full sentence and memorize it.

An example of good elevator pitch looks like:

I’m Marcus Styles, I am the co-founder of an online directory that connects local businesses with the community.

My elevator pitch is simple and effective because it is concise and straight to the point. I used words that people would understand, and allowed them to ask me questions about my profession. 

Bonus Tip: Walk up to a random person and introduce yourself. Everyone is in the room wanting to meet someone new. This is the perfect environment for you to walk up to a stranger.

#4 Break The Ice

Now that you’ve introduced yourself, this is where the magic happens. We host networking events and we provide conversation starters which are note cards with questions on them. This has helped both extroverted and introverted people break the ice. 

My advice for your attending someone else’s networking event is to prepare a list of 10 general questions you ask everyone. Make sure these questions are thought provoking so anyone can answer them like: Do you work better in the morning, afternoon, or night?

Use these questions to break the ice and lead the conversation!

Bonus Tip: When you ask them a question, prioritize retaining the information being shared with you. Active listening is a great skill to develop for networking and your career.

#5 Call to Action (Business card, virtual business card) 

After you have gotten to know the person, you can move onto your call to action. 

There is no wrong call to action. However, it should be quick, clear, and easy to engage with. We live busy lives and by having something prepared for someone can create ease for your first meeting. How do you choose? Whatever feels right for your business. 

Examples of call to actions are:

  1. Here is my business card
  2. Give me a call
  3. Send me a text
  4. Send me an email
  5. Follow me on online
  6. Schedule a meeting
  7. Access this QR Code

Whatever you decide fits best for your business, ensure that it is easily accessible so you're not scrambling in front of your new connection. These are great options you can either print or have on your homescreen for easy access.

Bonus Tip: I recommend setting up a calendly link to set up a meeting. When you get to the end of the conversation ask them to pull out their calendar and schedule a meeting with you on the spot. This will eliminate the back and forth of emails.

#6 Exiting a conversation

Networking etiquette should be short, sweet, and to the point because you have a goal to meet multiple people in the room (not everyone). In order for you to meet your goal, you need to practice the art of ending the conversation because all conversations come to an end at some point. 

An easy formula to follow is: If I would like to meet 3 people in this room, and the networking event is an hour, each connection can have 15 minutes max (allowing you 5 minutes to grab refreshments). 

Your call to action will allow you to get to know them more and exiting the conversation will help you achieve your goal. It is not rude of you to say “It was great meeting you, I am going to continue networking. I look forward to meeting with you”. 

Take a Bow

Pat yourself on the back because you have the capability and confidence to walk into a room and meet new people! Shift your perspective and think about how everyone is in this room to create connections. Networking is all about who you know, so when you need something you can call upon those people. 

Don't be afraid to put yourself out there. By the end of the networking event, you should have more contacts in your network, new people to follow and support, and meetings on the schedule! 

If you would like to put your networking skills to the test, check out our upcoming Networking Hangouts. I am happy to give you advice and feedback if you are looking for guidance!

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