Reposted from Metro EDGE blog

The Best Networking Is About More Than Just Showing Up

By Chelsea Wilhite, Metro EDGE Communications Committee Member

 

In case you missed it, the EDGEucational Forum on Tuesday night was a panel discussion about how we as YP’s can step up our networking game. Two incredible business professionals from the Sacramento region shared advice that any YP can use to get the most out of every networking opportunity. Gordon Fowler is the President/CEO of 3fold Communications, a strategic marketing and business solutions firm which he founded in 2004. He continues to grow the multi-million dollar agency through the network he’s built using key skills he shared at the event. Erica Taylor is the Vice President of Communications and Community Relations for Golden 1 Credit Union, the sixth largest credit union in the United States, was named a “Top 40 Under 40” by the Sacramento Business Journal in 2012, and does it all while balancing her role as a wife and mom. The two panelists shared different pieces of advice, but it all came back to how to get the most out of every networking opportunity! While there was so much great information shared, here are the big takeaways that YP’s can start using now to make the most of their networking opportunities.

Pre-Game

  • Learn as much as you can before you go to an event (this will help with the next tip). What is the topic of the event? If there is a list of attendees you can view to see who will be there or what companies will be represented? Learn as much as you can before you even walk in the door.
  • Set a goal of what you want to achieve at the event. Is there a certain person you want to connect with? Is there a question you want answered by the panel? What made you pick this event to attend and what do you want to get out of it?

Game Time

  • Go all in! Erica Taylor shared this as her best advice for what to do at a networking event. Don’t be afraid because someone else likely did their pre-game homework too and wants to meet you. Don’t stick with the people you know, meet new people.
  • Go directly to the middle of the room and work your way out. Gordon Fowler shared that his best advice for introverts and extroverts alike is to put yourself right in the middle of the room, which will require you to talk to people as you work your way out. Networking events are wasted if you stick to the periphery of the event.

Post-Game

  • Send thank you notes. Both speakers highlighted the importance of genuine thank you notes. A nice handwritten note or email can make a big difference. Say thank you to anyone who helped make the night a success for you. That could mean people you connected with, event sponsors or if your attendance was sponsored by a company. Everyone enjoys a genuine thank you and it’ll make the impression you made even more memorable.
  • Connect on social media! Reinforce those connections you did all the hard work pre-gaming for by following up on social media. LinkedIn is always a good way to maintain professional connections. Both speakers agreed that you have to keep your profile updated. Keep it professional and simple with your profile picture so you’re recognizable to all of the people accepting your connection. No spring break party pictures please!

Remember that successful networking is about more than just the event itself, it’s about how you pre-game and post-game too!