Diversity Woman Magazine

SPR 2019

Leadership and Executive Development for women of all races, cultures and backgrounds

Issue link: https://diversitywoman.epubxp.com/i/1096324

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Page 34 of 51

We Mean Business > d i v e r s i t y w o m a n . c o m S p r i n g 2 0 1 9 D I V E R S I T Y W O M A N 33 they started with. is changes the game from having only one winner to everyone winning by having a better hand than they were originally dealt," says Borja. 3. Develop a strategy Set a goal of how many times each week or month you'll attend an event where you could meet new people. Be realistic. Choose events carefully. Alumni events, industry gatherings, lectures, and fund- raisers all connect people with a common interest, which facilitates ice breaking. Borja recommends striving to attend at least one live event every week. "ere's no substitute for meeting people face-to- face. If you're out of sight, you're probably also out of mind," he says. Start to practice talking about your- self—appropriately. One of the things that gets in the way of networking is be- ing an introvert, wondering what to say or having feelings of anxiety when asked, "Tell me about yourself " or "What do you do?" "Practice makes perfect," says Camp- bell. "Use a mirror or practice your elevator speech with a friend until it sounds natu- ral." Don't rely on your business cards. "Fo- cus on having real conversations and learning more about the person you are in- teracting with during face-to-face events," Campbell advises. "Often, we have a pocket full of business cards after an event and cannot remember the people who gave them to us. If you want to be rememberable, engage in meaningful conversations versus passing out business cards." Network before you need to. For exam- ple, don't wait until you lose a job. "Don't wait until you have a need to start net- working," says Borja. "It results in despera- tion and is a turnoff to people you meet." 4. Work the room Be social. Don't just talk to people you know. Expand your range and even look for people who are standing by themselves. "Step outside your comfort zone and inter- act with people of all ages and stage," says Shenker. "Get to know the event organizer and ask him or her to make introductions to key attendees." You don't want to look like a rookie. Never hand out brochures or business cards randomly. "I usually even wait until someone asks for my card, rather than as- suming he or she wants it," says Shenker. Position yourself at live events where the traffic flow is higher. is provides ad- ditional visibility and more opportunities to meet people. 5. Break the ice When meeting someone new, ask first. Be more interested in what that per- son has to say, rather than what you have to say. is makes you a better conversationalist and makes you "different" in a good way. Most people like to talk, but not listen. "ere's an added bonus," says Borja. "People are more receptive to your message because they aren't think- ing about what they want to talk about. ey've already said it!" Conversation starters can come from anything. ere's the obvious: "What did you think of the speaker?" But sometimes you can prompt a conversation just by ask- ing someone at the buffet table, "What's your favorite appetizer?" "Of course, avoid politics and any other potentially polarizing topics," says Shenker. Keep conversations short and exit gracefully, saying something like, "I really enjoyed talking to you. We'll keep in touch. I see a few other people here I'd like to meet before we run out of time. May I add you to my email list? I assure you I won't spam you." 6. Connect online LinkedIn is the place for online business networking. Sites like meetup.com list live events and meetings you can attend too. ere are groups on Facebook and Linked- In as well. Build relationship trust and rapport by staying top of mind through social media posts. Create educational and entertaining posts that build your brand and expertise. "Don't create controversial posts on divi- sive subjects such as politics or religion," says Borja. "Even if a post starts with good intentions, it only takes one person to take your post into a downward spiral. ere's no winning in an online argument. Keep it positive and engaging." 7. Follow up While the gathering is still fresh in your mind, send follow-up notes and connect via LinkedIn to the people you met. Sched- ule meetings with A-list people. "Above all, do not sell aggressively," says Shenker. "New business comes from rela- tionships that build over time." 8. Become a connector Offer the folks you meet to con- nect them to others. Use social media messenger services to make introductions for people who would ben- efit from meeting. "is starts the ball rolling for new relationships to form, and you'll start receiving more introductions to people beneficial to your own network- ing and business," says Borja. 9. Persevere One networking event, conference, or other gathering is usually not a tipping point for your business and personal life. "e more 'practice' you get meeting new people and following up, the easier net- working becomes," Shenker says. "Evalu- ate your activities every quarter, and you'll get a clear sense of what types of events and connections have been the most help- ful and productive." 10. Concentrate on quality over quantity Says Campbell, "Stop worrying about how many people you connect with. Making fewer connections will allow you to deep- en the relationships. ere is not a prize for the biggest network." DW Sheryl Nance-Nash is a frequent contributor to DW.

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