What is your networking style? I recorded a podcast last week with Judy Maxwell of “Lodging Leaders,” focused on the hospitality industry. I shared my top tips for networking.
They apply to even the biggest introvert.
JUDY: Define networking.
JOYA: Networking takes several forms for me.
- Defining my goals and the network I need to build to achieve that
- Spending 15 minutes a day on Linkedin connecting with these folks
- Then taking that connection off-line either with a call or an in person meetup
- Attending events/conferences where I am going to learn something or where the profile of the type of person I want to meet is attending
- Connecting right away with the ones I wish to followup with on LinkedIn so I have their contact details
- Following up from time to time with folks I want to catch up with, either with a coffee or a dinner or an interesting forward of an article
- Engaging in conversations on Twitter
- leading with an attitude of how can I help?
JUDY: Share how networking has helped you build a career.
JOYA: I’ve known since I was 4 years old that I wanted to be a television anchor. I also knew that I had zero footholds or connections in the industry. I paid to go to graduate school at Boston University so I could network. Network I did. I went to work for the alumni relations person. I attended conferences. leveraged that network to get my first internship in journalism and my first three jobs. Networking connected me to my first TV agent who put me on CNN. Networking frankly, led to my launching LadyDrinks.
JUDY: What in your view is the power of networking?
JOYA: I’m a journalist by trade. I’m naturally curious. I enjoy hearing other people’s stories. I enjoy learning. I lead with these goals when networking.
- Networking allows me to strengthen my exisiting business connections. By regularly engaging with my contacts and finding opportunities to help them helps to strengthen the relationship. Should I ever need help in achieving my goals, I’ve laid the groundwork for that to hopefully happen in reverse.
- Networking and sharing a challenge helps me to get fresh ideas. I also offer helpful ideas to my contacts or refer business.
- Networking has allowed me to advance my career and gain access to job opportunities. There is so much value still in meeting one on one and meeting face to face.
- Networking helps me to build confidence. Even if I don’t have the answer or the solution now, I know where to go to find it. I have a solid sounding board that I can go to bounce off and tackle problems
- I’ve developed great long lasting friendships. That’s been the tremendous upside
JUDY: What are the fundamental benefits of networking?
JOYA: If you have a well developed and diverse network, you can get the answer to any problem you have. Also, when you have a well developed network, which you have built on the fundamentals of trust, you know that you can get the answers, assistance you need and get the folks to rally behind you.
JUDY: If someone wants to start networking, how should they begin?
JOYA: What is your industry? What is your vertical? Google events in your area that are relevant. Search eventbrite. Search Instagram. I searched Eventbrite the other day and found the NYWIB conference on Jan 14th that I will attend. They always have great speakers.
- Make it fun. What are your interests? I joined the American Friends of the Louvre because I truly enjoy the arts. Its a group that is totally different from any thing my friends are members of.
- IN the words of my friend and colleague Joel Apfelbaum, Linkedin is a 24-7 networking party. You can always reach out to folks who liked a post or viewed your profile by sending a personal message, “Hey thank you for viewing my profile, I recently updated my ‘About’ section. It’s pretty extensive, I encourage you to read it.
- Make ‘lists’ on Twitter. I am hosting a women’s winemakers dinner in Houston this month. I made a ‘list’ of merchants, individuals, organizations entrenched in or talking about female leadership or entrepreneurship. I listen first. Then engage.
JUDY: Is networking only for the extroverted? For introverts, what advice can you give about making the most of a networking opportunity? What is your goal? Do you have the network to achieve it? If the answer is ‘no’ can you afford to not network?
JOYA: For the introvert, I recommend the following if going to a networking event
- Have a few talking points you would like to share. A recent vacation you went on. Something you saw that surprised you. something you read that wowed you.
- Have your 15 second pitch ready on who you are and what you do. Practice it.
- LISTEN. Ask questions. People love to talk about themselves. lead with your natural curiosity.
- Wear a conversation starter. Wear an engine red coat. Funky statement earrings. An exquisite scarf. Funky glasses. A pin. A necklace. Anything that will stoke folks to want to approach you first. I remember wearing a simple white sequin top from H&M to a Marie Forleo event at the Hammerstein Ballroom. Thousands of poeple were in attendance. So many stopped me to tell me how much they liked my top.
JUDY: If someone has “made it” to the top of their profession, should he or she continue to network? Of course. There are probably alot of people who helped you get there. I continue to set up dinners, coffees, lunches with people to touch base.
JOYA: What is the main misunderstanding people have about networking?
That it has to be work. That you have to skip the small talk and shove your card in someone’s face.
JOYA: What are the top three tips you can give on how to effectively mingle in a room full of people?
- Don’t be afraid to walk up to a clatch of people and introduce yourself. This takes courage but when you keep doing it, it gets easier
- Pretend you are the host. If the clatch has already formed around you, make introductions to people who have just joined the circle and share what you have learned about them
- Look at people’s feet. Pay attention to body language. Pick up on social cues. If their feet are pointing away from you, they are looking to exit the conversation. If their eyes are darting furiously around as you are talking, that’s a cue.
- Learn to gracefully exit a conversation. Phrases like, “Well Joanie it was so wonderful to meet you. I am going to circulate the room and meet some more people.”
To learn more about my women’s networking initative for South Asian executive women and founders, go to www.ladydrinks.com