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Networking for Beginners

Leonicka Valcius: Networking for Beginners

Monday, May 28, 2012

Networking for Beginners

The first piece of advice anyone gave me when I entered the publishing industry was to network. Go to all the events, schmooze with all the people, and make a name for yourself.  I think I’ve gotten pretty good at one-on-one meetings with industry pros but disaster strikes when I try to “work a room.” The following are tips I repeat to myself in hopes I’ll be able to apply them.
 Prepare a 30-second introduction
Too often I rely on co-workers or friends to introduce me. When I go to an event alone I tend to freeze, unsure how to approach all those intimidating people. Having a little speech ready calms my nerves and gives me a pre-packaged ice-breaker. Here’s the basic template I use: “Hi! My name is ____.  What is your name? Nice to meet you! I am/was/will be ____. I am here because ____.  What brings you here?” From there I listen and learn as much as I can, hoping the conversation picks up on its own. 
Give out business cards
When I was 18, I ordered a pack of 250 business cards. Nearly 5 years later, I have about 200 left. Fail. My new goal is to give out at least 1 card for every 15 minutes I spend at an event. The trick, an HR manager shared, is to ask for the person’s card first. Then you can give them yours without feeling presumptuous (or in my case, silly).

Follow up
This step is so easy! A quick email saying “pleasure to meet you” reminds the person of who you are and gives you the opportunity to ask for a coffee meeting or informational interview. I love informational interviews; I use them to learn more about the industry, get insight on different career paths, and get job hunting advice.

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