As promised, I am back to report on my 2nd networking event, which I attended last week. Right from the start this one just felt different, and I definitely welcomed the better vibe. This one was much more relaxed and had, from what I could tell, a different set of people involved. Where at the last one I found crowds of people who arrived together, inquiring brusquely where I worked and what I did, at this one, people were flying solo and were much more approachable. I have no good reason for why this was, but I happily partook in it! I might also add, I got less of the feeling of senior level management looking down on the rest of us than I did at the last one. Everyone at the 2nd even appeared to be genuinely interested in being there and chatting with new people.
At this event, I came across some other freelancers, some digital marketing people and even some people who are in corporate positions. The conversation was much more engaging, and most importantly, real and free flowing. As I mentioned in my last networking post, you can’t force this. I spoke to a couple people, actually got some business cards this time, and stayed longer than I planned. These were all good things and I consider this event to be a win as well. The group that held it has them about once/month, and I think it would be a good idea to keep attending, as well as finding some other ones in the meantime. I have found, however, that this whole process is sort of intimidating, and sometimes limiting, unfortunately. There are only so many active groups holding meet ups, whose events also fit my schedule. Sorry, but a networking breakfast or lunch on a Tuesday only works for a certain amount of people.
As you know, networking and attending events is just part of what’s necessary to acquire more contacts and know more friendly faces. It is important to follow up and use those business cards you get; send some follow up emails or LinkedIn requests to connect. It’s always good to be able to go back in a couple of months when you want to reconnect, and forward that email you sent originally to the contact to refresh their memory. And people, if they can, want to help! I like to keep this positive bit of insight close in my mind when I’m interacting with contacts. No, you are not being pushy, and no, you are not wasting their time, they want to help you if they can! So I’ll just keep being patient and see what continues to develop on this path.
Key points to remember:
- Keep your body language open
- Smile a lot, even if you don’t feel like it…
- It’s ok to fake it!
- See where the chatting takes you
- Keep moving
- Give yourself credit