Ever hear of the saying, “It's not what you know, but who you know”? Well, it's not too far off. You definitely need to know your stuff, but it's very helpful to know the right people too. Never underestimate the power of networking.
Why is networking even that important? Well, think of it this way. If your inner circle contains ten people. Each of those ten people has another circle of ten people. If you network with your circle's circles, you've expanded your network ten fold (100 people). In other words, if you have 100 followers on Instagram, and you follow all of your follower's followers, you'd now have 10,000 followers (assuming everyone accepted)!
Imagine how much more you can accomplish with that many more followers! That's more resources, potential customers or clients, and more opportunities to grow!
So how do you network like a Boss Babe?? Here are a few key things to keep in mind to make the most out of your network!
Networking is more than just Socializing
Whenever you have the opportunity to network, remember it isn't merely socializing. You're not there only to have a good time, but more importantly to grow your network. Look at it differently than if you're going to a party or a social gathering. Those types of events you go to simply have fun and unwind. You aren't looking to gain anything tangible.
But when you have a bigger goal in mind, you should actively seek out networking opportunities that you think might be good for you to grow in any way. Look for conferences, summits, workshops, lunch and learns, anything that might be good for you.
Is there anyone you'd like to meet that you want to possibly collaborate with? Follow their social media, see what events they're attending and try to go to the same events. Not in a “stalker – I want to meet you” kind of way, but more “Hey, I love what you're doing let's collaborate” way. Even if you don't get a chance to meet them and give a pitch, you might still learn something or meet someone else that turns out even more beneficial.
So basically, you have to create these opportunities for yourself. Don't wait around for them and don't wast any potential opportunities by just socializing.
Network with a Purpose
Always ask yourself: Why am I here? What is my purpose? Are you trying to simply grow your network and meet new people? Maybe you're trying to find new collaborations or looking to sell a product or service. Whatever it is, always keep that in mind as you go to these events.
The next question to ask is: What do I hope to gain? In an ideal situation, if you were networking at a professional event, what would you hope to walk away with? What will be your “value-add”? Whatever it is, start from there and look for opportunities that match up to it.
If you're a blogger, and you're looking for more local collaborations then you should definitely look for local blogger events and mingle there. If you're creating a new product, and want to get the word out to as many people as possible, then check out as many networking opportunities as possible. However, be smart and strategic about where you go. For example, if you just created the next best planner that will help you map out all your entrepreneurial goals, an engineering conference might not be the best place to go.
When you have a clear vision of what you hope to accomplish, it makes it so much easier to look for the best opportunities for you to network and achieve your goals.
Perfect your Elevator Pitch
What is an elevator pitch, you ask? Good question! It's basically how quickly and efficiently you can sell yourself and your story. When you meet someone, or when you are pitching your business/product/service, you typically won't have long until the other person loses interest. You need to have a quick way to draw them in and make them want to hear more. That's where your elevator pitch comes in!
It sounds pretty simple, right? Who knows you and your stuff better than you, right? No one! But, trust me when I say it's a lot harder than it seems. Mainly because when we are so passionate about what we are trying to accomplish, we tend to want to go into lots of detail so we don't miss anything! Keep in mind though, not only is it hard to grab someone's attention, but they might not even have that much time to begin with! So a good elevator pitch with buy you you're “in” so they want to hear more, and will schedule a follow up with you to get the full details.
The best way to perfect your elevator pitch is to first write it down. Think of the most important facts you want to relay.
Who are you? What are you trying to accomplish? Why should they consider you?
Then, practice it! Record yourself, either with video or a simple voice note. Pretend you ran into your perfect collab, and you only have a short time to grab their attention (think like 1-3 minutes short). Talk to yourself exactly how you would talk to them. Once you're done, replay it and check the time. This way you have time to go over it, make sure you are relaying what is most important, and grabbing the right attention!
Look for Mutually Beneficial Partnerships
The best relationships and partnerships are one where it's mutually beneficial: Where all parties walk away with something. People are more likely to collaborate with you (or buy your product/service) if they benefit it in some way. So while you're working on your elevator pitch, don't forget to include how you can help them!
Here's a pro tip: Don't be afraid to tell people what they want or what they are missing! If they don't know something exists, they won't even know that they need it in their life! If you create a need, then you will be the first one to fill it!
Here are a few things to think about while meeting new people:
- How can they help me?
- How can I help them?
- Is this person going to be able to help me reach my goals and become successful in any way?
- Are there any mutual benefits that we can both use?
- Is this person/group my target market? Can I gain anything from them or their network? Or can I benefit them or their network in any way?
People are more likely to listen and help you out if they know they can directly benefit from you or your services in some way, or if they think they can sell you something and benefit that way.
Follow Up and Follow through after Networking!
So you've made some great connections at an event and built your network! Possibly found some clients or people interested in your products. Congratulations!
But before you get too ahead of yourself, don't forget about possibly one of the most important aspects of networking: the follow-up! Send out follow up emails or texts thanking them for their time and letting them know how nice it was to meet them. Personalize it, don't be too generic. Bring up something you spoke about so they can remember exactly who you are. Keep in mind, at events we all meet so many people it can be hard to keep track of who's who. Then let them know you'd like to follow up with them and possibly meet one-on-one or set up a formal meeting.
Make sure to do this while you're still fresh in their minds. If you wait too long, it might be too late and they might not be interested anymore, or worse have found someone else to meet their needs.
The other important part is to follow through with anything you committed to. If you told someone you'd send them a flyer for another upcoming event, make sure you do it timely. If you let them know you had an article for them they might be interested in, send it as soon as possible. When meeting potential clients make sure to follow through so that you leave behind a good impression. You want to be remembered as being reliable and trustworthy, and true to your word.
All that's left to do is to go out and Network like a Boss Babe!
By following all of these tips, you should be able to grow your network quickly with the right types of people who can help you out the most! In these cases, it's quality over quantity. If you have a network of 100 people and only about 10 of them are your target market, that won't be very beneficial to you. So make sure to network at events with value-add to you and your purpose. The best kind of networking is the one where you grow professionally, and personally. So go out there, and don't be afraid to network like a Boss Babe!
Taharah Saad is a TEDx Speaker, serves as the President of the Arab American Women's Business Council and also a full-time engineer in the automotive industry. She is the Producer/Creative Lead/Host for the “Her Path to Success” series. Taharah specializes in topics of professional development, diversity & inclusion, work/life balance, and many more; however, her favorite titles are wife and mom. She is also the founder of @glassceilingbreakers and @detroit_bloggers on Instagram. Everything she does furthers her personal mission of helping to inspire, motivate, and empower women to achieve their best selves and success!