Monday, October 17, 2011

Part 2: Let's Discuss Networking Styles!

Networking is crucial to any business that desires to grow and expand! FACT. 

Last week we started discussing Are You "Networking!!" or "Netwatching??" it was the intro to a 3 part series! This past Friday we discussed {Part 1: 5 Signs You Are Netwatching!}. If you missed either of these discussions then read those prior to continuing.

Networking comes in many styles. You have Target-Market Based networking events, One-on-One meetings and Casual Networking events. Because networking can be applied to any of these I will be giving examples of all! Today's post is all about the different styles of networking events & what to do at the networking events. To begin let's start with target-market based networking events. 

(Sadly I wasn't at this one..)

Target-Market Based networking events for me fall in the category of Bridal Shows, Industry educational related events, etc. At these type of events your goal is to make your business known, discretely. I say discretely because you want to say hello, without screaming it..if you get my drift. You are attending on the basis of learning, but also to meet & greet new businesses that can help your business grow. At these kind of events you should dress professionally. A nice button down top w/business jacket/blazer, a pin-striped skirt and 3 inch heels (black preferably!) You should look classy & fit-in. <--- I technically don't follow this rule, however for those that like rules this is the typical industry look. I like to be a little bolder and stand out. So you will find me wearing bold colors, especially when it comes to my shoes! Be prepared to hand out a business card if it comes up in a conversation. When cards are given out (especially at educational based networking events) it happens at the end of the event. So don't walk in throwing cards at people..get the education, socialize and distribute then! Sometimes networking means being at the event and learning and socializing. Not necessarily saying this is who I am, utilize my services. This is the start of a network connection.

(Meetings can take place at Panera Bread, Starbucks, Olive Garden etc!!)

One-on-One meetings are great and are usually formed after attending an educational networking event, bridal show, etc. This is the next step to continue a connection made. This is your opportunity to create a long-lasting relationship or just a social media based relationship. Networking is great, and one-on-one meetings are crucial because it allows you to know if you want to actually work with this new connection. 

"You won't work with everyone, some are just nice to chat with on social media." -UrDreamPlanner

I love One-on-One meetings because you learn a person's personality, goals, desires, etc and see if they match up with what your trying to present to your clientele. When at a large target-market based networking event you don't get to know the person, you just see the surface. Therefore having this personal one-on-one meeting can give you a feel for your next move. I have had good & bad one-on-one meetings. Some meetings have created long-lasting relationships, while others are some of my coolest social media friends!! {{Now being a social media friend is NOT a bad thing! My main social media friends are those that don't live within 150 miles of me. These are friends that I only see on fb, twitter, blogger etc unless we both attend a national or regional networking event. I usually do not work with these people not because they are not amazing(because ALL my friends are amazing :-)), but because at the moment I don't have a clientele in their specific area. Having social media friends is equally important as local colleagues because you never know where your next client may come from and it's great to have connections all over the world!}} Be yourself when attending one-on-one meetings, dress professional during these meetings as well, every impression makes a difference! This is your time to shine and show who you are and how you can help the other business!  

::Awesome Tip::
If you're the one setting up the meeting be prepared to treat the other person (& yourself, no one likes to eat alone) to some Food!! It's a kind gesture that goes a long way. :-)

Lastly, and one of my favorites are Casual Networking events! Casual Networking events are awesome!! When attending these networking events you tend to be more comfortable. I find that when I attend these it is because I am apart of the organization, I am attending with someone else, and I am just comfortable at going out there and talking with random people that I don't know and catching back up with those social media friends and local colleagues!!  Casual Networking events can be professional attire and is usually fun professional attire. Because of the fact that you ARE a professional you should always dress accordingly. Depending on the event, you can dress it up or dress it down as long as your camera ready. You may not think you are in the picture but if you happen to get in a side shot that you weren't expecting you need to be dress nicely!

Always carry business cards and try to remember names! At Casual Networking events, you tend to see some of the same faces over and over. If you don't remember someone's name and they remember yours (this has happened to me..Shhh o_O) it is okay, ask them what their name is. Just don't let it happen twice. I one time found myself looking on Fb so I could figure out who I was talking happens..but try not to make a habit of it! People like to be remembered especially at these type of events. Be yourself, dress nice, hand out a few cards and enjoy!


So we discussed several types of networking events! I decided to save discussing how to be a confident networker for the last post because people tend to remember most what they read last. So this Wednesday we will learn how to be a confident networker. 

If you attend networking events, which do you find to be your favorite style? Do you follow any of these rules? Feel free to add some tips on anything listed above!