Networking Tips for the Modern Career Gal
By, Ashley Crimaldi
So we’ve all heard that networking can be the key to success. As savvy women, we understand that blindly submitting a job application or resume probably isn’t the most effective way of landing a job or internship. In our technological age, we may have grown uncomfortable with face-to-face networking, and think it’s no longer necessary. I argue, that face to face networking is still extremely important to boosting your career goals.
Last week I attended the Sue Shear 21st Century Leadership Academy, and had to attend many networking events. Here are some simple tips I learned at the Academy.
Master Your Handshake
A handshake can tell a lot about a person’s character, yet a lot of women don’t think about as being particularly important. Here are some simple tips.
1. Make sure your handshake is firm. A firm handshake shows you are confident, ambitious and professional. A weak handshake can indicate timidity.
2. Smile and make eye contact during a handshake.
3. Perform 2-4 upward and downward motions. One ‘shake’ is too short, and can come off as rushed or inconsiderate. However, shaking for too long is equally awkward. If someone is shaking your hand for too long, and it’s making you uncomfortable don’t be afraid to take control and break it off (with a pleasant smile on your face).
4. Make sure your hands clean and dry. No one likes to shake hands with a wet noodle.
Create a Business Card
If you don’t have business cards already, make some! Even if your not currently employed, having a business card with your contact information on it is helpful. Be ready to hand these out to people you meet! Also, don’t be afraid to ask for others business cards. Chances are they will have one, and be willing to give it to you.
Don’t be afraid to approach someone new!
A networking event is no place to be shy! Don’t hesitate to approach new people, especially if someone is standing alone, or not engaged in another conversation. However, don’t be afraid to LEAVE the conversation if its not one you’re interested in, or if you don’t think a potential connection can be made. In the time you wasted speaking to someone uninteresting, you could have met a great new contact! Remember: your time is valuable so don’t waste it.
To Drink, or Not to Drink?
Many networking events have a cash bar, or even free alcoholic beverages. I was advised, NOT to drink at networking events. Why? Because everyone has different sensibilities, and you don’t want to offend anyone. Attempt to project your best possible self. If you’ve had a few drinks, your judgment may be altered, and your clarity of speech and pronunciation may start to slip. Plus, its juggle your cards, your purse, appetizer plate and wine glass all at the same time. Similarly, if there are appetizers at the event, don’t be preoccupied with stuffing your face. Focus on the end goal: making great new connections. NOT getting free drinks and appetizers.
Network with the ‘Doers’ not with other networkers
Try to attend networking functions with well-established attendees. Networking with other networkers often can result in nothing. Attempt to network will people who already have careers and connections, not with other people who are hoping to gain some. Remember don’t be afraid to move on if the conversation doesn’t suit you.
If you meet a really great person at a networking event, and you got their card remember to follow up. You can follow up with a handwritten note, or a personalized e-mail. This is a great way to thank someone for his/her time, and tell them you look forward to future conversation.