Networking basics

[slideshow_deploy id=’149′]Armed with an invite to the stylish Spring Social at Hotel Zaza I started off my night ready to mingle.  What can compare after a long day at work or school to the time you have to catch up with friends, enjoying good drinks, great music and a tantilizing environment.  Only one catch, events like this are similarly opportunities to meet people in the know and get your name and or business out there.  For most people networking is at the least a hassle and at the worst a horrible addition to a to do list.  Why venture out when you have come with a friend and can instead enjoy the casual conversation with someone you really enjoy??  Well meeting people is a part of promotion and critical to you building your personal brand.  There is no guarantee you will love who you meet but you will never know if you never try.  With limited time, however, I want to both totally enjoy myself and put in some ground work on expanding my network.

This begs the question, what is the difference between networking and socializing?  Socializing is what we do when out and about and share with those we meet on a personal level while networking is driven towards making professional connections.  I find it difficult to mix the two because I naturally want to spend more time with those I like personally.  In doing so I could potentially quickly miss or pass by those who are a good fit on a personal level.  To do accomplish both networking and socializing I set a plan for networking and let social hour fall as it may.

My networking game plan usually comes with a goal.  My grandfather provided me with the blueprint as he would come into an event with his light shining, briefly talk to a majority of the room and slip out before anyone noticed.  Even with a short time frame of his stay, the impression he left was that he was personally vested and interested in their lives and an enforced a connection many who knew him reminisce on to this day.  For me networking can be a little tedious and to cut down on that feeling I try to take the essence of my grandfather technique.  I set a goal of how I want to work the room and how many people I should meet before work time is over.  This gives me a little motivation to get the job done so I can proceed to carry on as I like.  Also I don’t limit myself to talking only to those people I typically feel comfortable with.  Stepping out of one’s comfort zone can often lead to big benefits and lead to real life connections.    Last but not least I don’t beat myself up if everything does not go according to plan.  Quality is almost always better than quantity so if I make a genuine connection with someone instead of walking away I just try to open the conversation up to others.

Although this is my style it’s really about new techniques out do find out what style can work for you.  This is not to say just stick with the status quo if you are good or bad at it. Work to perfect a style that gets you the results you want and don’t keep pushing yourself.

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