By Isha Edwards
Effective Networking: Solid Leads, Lasting Impression
Contrary to popular opinion, effective networking does not translate to 1. Attending any and every industry event you can get to or 2. Giving every person you meet (different from every person who asks) your business card. Networking is a lot like branding. The more narrow your focus, the more memorable you will be and the more meaningful or valuable the exchange.
Tips for effective networking
Since most networking takes place during or as a result of social or business mixers, the tips that follow apply.
Depending on event type, first determine (when possible) who is attending, e.g., guests, speakers, facilitator, host, etc. Next, do your due diligence, i.e., research! In addition to using social networking sites, where formal and informal resumes are standard, there is always Google, which may be used to track a person via the media, their professional portfolios, and their conversations. The goal for researching is to target individuals whose vision, mission, short or long-term goals align with yours. Being able to complement their efforts is one way to leave a lasting impression plus garner a call back. Last, instead of giving an elevator pitch and selling a product, use networking opportunities to vet needs, interests, goals, etc. or to garner contact information. For many reasons, scheduling a time to vet in a less distracting environment is ideal. Like any business or personal venture, networking should yield a profit for the time, and therefore money, invested.
Rules for effective networking
Think of networking as speed-dating or driving. Green means go. Yellow means proceed with caution and red means stop. Since it only takes five minutes to size someone up, you can limit the amount of time you engage in small talk. As soon as you are aware of an individual’s “vibe” or signal (green, yellow, red), govern yourself accordingly. An easy way to excuse yourself from a conversation is to state your purpose immediately after introductions. Thanks to social communication tools like Twitter, less is acceptably more. In fact, nuggets of information (140 characters or less), are easier to retain. Nuggets of information also help to move along or shorten conversations.
The good thing about networking is that it is an effective way to find valuable resources in a short time. If you implement the tools provided, you will leave an event with solid business, career or social leads or, at the very least, leave a lasting impression.
Isha Edwards is an idea catalyst for individuals and organizations across 12 industries including music, media, fashion, film, academia, professional services, nonprofit, and small business administration. Through EPiC Measures, Isha provides brand-driven marketing consulting and business development services. Her skills and experience in business management, business education, and marketing communications enables her to implement a practical, comprehensive approach to establishing, operating, and growing a business.