Freshen Up the Way You Are Networking
A few weeks ago, I was spending an evening working out of my favorite local coffee shop when I overheard the most interesting conversation between an elderly couple and two gentlemen who seemed to be assisting with the couple’s future financial goals.
As soon as they sat down, the elderly gentleman asked the two men for a business card. One of the men, probably in his mid-30s, wasn’t carrying a business card and oh boy, did he hear about it for the next 10 minutes. “How do you expect people to know about your business without a business card?” asked the elder man. “Google,” said the financial planner. The poor guy then spent another 10 minutes hearing about the importance of face-to-face relationships.
There are about 16 business cards sitting at the bottom of my purse. Am I actually going to keep the business cards? Probably not. However, I will use those business cards in ways that I would not have used them 10 years ago.
How we communicate in today’s world is ever-changing, and so should the way you approach growing your network and the people who are in your network.
- The almighty business card: We still need them in instances like the above. However, the goal should not be to collect business cards without also collecting a relationship to go along with it.
- As soon as you meet someone with whom you’re interested in growing a professional relationship, follow their company on Instagram and/or Facebook, add them on LinkedIn. Like their posts, comment, or share a cool article you’ve read about their company.
- Go to industry events and get involved within an organization that provides support for whatever industry you’re a part of. There is an association for everything. Find out how you can be a part of bettering your industry.
- If you can’t attend the events due to the thousands of other things on your calendar, many events have a virtual component. Experience the event on social media (Facebook Live, a webinar) while you’re waiting for your kid’s basketball game to start. You can still contribute to the event and be noticed in the virtual space.
- Expand your network by volunteering for things you’re passionate about. Your network does not only need to include people who will potentially do business with you. The purpose of a network is to be able to reach out to them if you’re unsure of what to do. I’m currently working for the same company as someone whom I met while volunteering for a cancer walk about 10 years ago.
- Join networks of people on social media sites. These can be such great spots to ask questions, gain ideas, brainstorm with people who you may not even know.
- Offer to host some of your network for a happy hour. Bring people together who are from different areas of your network and who may benefit from knowing each other. In my job a lot of our team works in a virtual workspace. My boss recently held a virtual happy hour for our team. We all hopped on a video conference, grabbed a beverage of our choice, and chatted about our personal lives.
- If you have a great experience with someone, write up a review and post it. Share the comments on your social media if possible. Write a recommendation on LinkedIn. People love to hear that their work is appreciated and someday you may see that effort reciprocated.
- Take a class (or teach a class) in your community. Be it a traditional pottery class at a local college or one of the many cocktails + crafting events. You can meet some very interesting people during a three-hour cooking class.
About the author:
Kim Fischer works at CWT Meetings & Events on the Venue Sourcing team. Kim has worked in the hospitality/events industry for over 20 years in a variety of roles, the majority of which has been in catering/sales for hotels. She loves being involved with ILEA, as it pushes her to learn about numerous event industry topics and meet the most amazing event professionals. She is the current director of membership for ILEA MSP and the incoming vice president of Membership.
The International Live Events Association (ILEA) represents and supports more than 5,000 members globally – event professionals who do business together, share knowledge, nurture talent and progress the live events industry. For more information on how an ILEA professional can help you with your event, please contact email@example.com.