So this weekend, I was a speaker at Cosmopolitan UK’s first ever self made summit which was an all day event for millennial women to help them develop and grow within their desired careers. It was a fun packed day filled with keynote talks, panels and makeover sessions. My morning and afternoon session focused on ‘The Art of Networking’ which was Chaired by the lovely and glam Publisher of Cosmopolitan UK , Georgina Holt and my fellow speakers Simon Jones (Simon Jones PR) and Rosette Pambakian (VP Communications & Branding, Tinder)
After speaking with so many women in my session and sharing what I have learnt over 10 years in my sector, it made me realise that some of our squad may have the same questions that they had when it comes to building a strong network. So, I thought I would share with you some of the mistakes I have found that women make when networking.
Remember: Networking is building relationships and making connections.
Some people confuse networking at events for example as an opportunity to either sell themselves as a potential employee or their business. They go straight in for the pitch and spend the conversation giving a sales pitch! STOP: Networking is about building rapport and getting to know the other person, their challenges and area of business. You could waste time pitching to someone who has zero relevance to your career or business
Ever heard your Mum say ‘You have two ears and one mouth’? That means you talk too much LOL. Seriously, one thing I have seen time and time again is people who go on and on when you first meet them about themselves and do not even stop to breathe let alone ask you anything about yourself! A great networker listens more than they talk. So next time you meet someone new don’t bombard them with questions but make sure you are listening to them and actually show an interest in finding out more about them and how you can possibly help
The question I got asked a lot on Saturday was ‘If I am at an event and see a group of 5 men talking, how do I approach them?’ Some women think that they have to approach men at networking events aggressively or talk to them about ‘Men’ things to build rapport. That is a BIG MISTAKE. Girl, they are human just like you! You do not need to be anyone but yourself and remember that you may have lots of things in common with men, so get to know them and find out more about their background, family and interests.
So you see a group of 3 people talking at an event. You have come alone and need to start making new friends. What do you do? How do you approach them without seeming weird or embarrassing yourself? My advice is when you walk up to a new group, introduce yourself briefly with something like ‘Hi, My name is Vanessa’ and then ask them a question such as ‘So what did you think about the speaker at the event?’ Or ‘What brings you here this evening’ and then that way you can start to slowly talk about what you do.
It is okay to not want to develop or pursue a contact further. You may meet someone at an event who has a lovely personality but you feel that they have nothing to offer you or they do not work in your sector. That is totally fine; it is much better to leave an event with 2 amazing contacts to follow up with the next morning then about 20 people you have to email the next day. That is a waste of your time and theirs. Keep it moving!
Remember when meeting people instead of thinking ‘What is in it for me?’ Try and think, how can I help this person? Not only does helping people feel good there may come a day when that person will connect you with someone very influential for your career or business. Karma and all.