7 Tips to Business Networking Like a Pro!
If you want to move forward in your career, then you must learn to be bold and network! Networking might not feel comfortable at first but trust me the more you do it the more natural it becomes. I love networking, in fact people even call me “The Networker!” So allow me to give you some pointers on how to master the art of business networking:
1. Know Your Industry
Before attending business networking events, be sure you are well versed about your field of work. Knowing types of jobs, titles, and roles within the industry will help you feel more at ease when navigating these events. It is also important to recognize how you want to progress your career and identify those people who might be able to help you achieve your goals. Think about conversation starters and know your craft!
2. Know Your Brand
Even in our digital age, you need to have business cards at a networking event (you can design and print them at VistaPrint). It might seem dated but it is an excellent way to represent your brand. It should include your website, contact information and current position. As an Actor, I have my headshot on my business card to make it easier for people to remember me! If the other party does not have one to exchange, there’s always Linkedin or you can just take down their email in your phone notes!
3. Get Into The Room
Getting into the business networking room is the hardest part of networking. But a great way to do it is by joining affinity groups at your current company or larger organizations within your industry. I am an Actor and Producer, so I look for networking groups in the entertainment industry that will be beneficial for my career. For example, I belong to the New York Women in Film & Television network (NYWIFT) and I am looking to join Film Fatales, Women in Film in LA.
I also attend events about women in film that would be good networking opportunities. Most recently I went to the NYWIFT Power Brunch at the Hamptons International Film Festival. I was able to meet a variety of successful women in the Entertainment Industry. This led to more invites to private screenings and meetings with female playwrights, writers, filmmakers and potential collaborators!
In addition to acting and producing I am also a singer. To further networking in my music career, I recently attended the Women International Music Network event to meet like-minded artists and musicians. There is also the Women in Music organization that hosts a variety of seminars, panels and showcases. These events and special networks are out there! You just have to research your specific field!
4. Be Yourself
Once you’re at the event, you get to pick who you speak with. In many situations, especially if you go alone, people will come up and speak to you. But I usually approach anyone and just start a conversation (I love meeting new people!)
If you are at a networking event, other people will be looking to make connections too, so just say hello. If for example you are at a screening, introduce yourself to the person sitting next to you! The most important piece of advice I can give is to be yourself and be confident!
5. Know Your Business Networking Pitch
Prepare a business networking pitch! This is your introduction which should cover:
- What you’re currently doing.
- Who you work for and your specific responsibilities.
- What your career aspirations are.
- Asking the other person questions about their career.
6. Follow-Up is Key
Follow-up is key to Business Networking Success. With all the business cards and contact information you have accumulated, you should add each name to an excel document. Then reach out to them within 3 days of the event. Keep track of your contact with them, and be persistent with those people you feel would really help you further your career.
I personally think it is always best to follow up the day after so that you leave them a tangible reminder of your meeting.
Organize a time to meet up for coffee with the people you have met, as this gives you a chance to really get to know the other person and their business. Networking can lead to jobs, referrals, or even new business partners! For example I am starting an all female band that empowers women through music. Many of these women I met through networking or referrals!!
Never be afraid to put yourself out there and network! If you don’t, you’ll miss out on some truly incredible opportunities.