Become your own Kevin Bacon – 9 Networking Tips

woman-handshake1Remember the Six Degrees of Keven Bacon game? It was based on the six degrees of separation theory, which poses that any two people on Earth are six or fewer acquaintance links apart. Well, networking can help you become Kevin Bacon in your work space. Last spring I wrote about  joining the LinkedIn party to network online, but we all know that face-to-face networking is an important part of the mix as well. The opportunities are endless and just taking the time to sort through the organizations, opportunities and meet-ups is time consuming. However, it is necessary and beneficial to become a master at the networking opportunity.

Here are some steps to keep you focused and meaningful:

  1. Set Goals – Make weekly or monthly goals around attending networking events or follow up coffees on a regular basis.
  2. Fits like a glove – Find the right events for you. When researching organizations, beware that they can be expensive to join. Visit the meeting 2-3 times before committing to join. Another great source for different kinds of events in your area is Eventbrite.com.
  3. Here to Serve – When you do find a good fit with any organization, get involved on a committee or volunteer to do a job during the meeting itself. Take on positions that will allow you to become known by more people.
  4. Meet and Greet – When at the meeting, introduce yourself first to those you want to meet, then follow up with a question, such as what they thought about the program or how they are connected to the organization. Don’t stand around and talk to those with whom you came.
  5. Two ears, one mouth; use them proportionally  – Ask open ended questions then be quiet.  Talking less allows you to listen and learn more.
  6. Short and sweet – Have a brief “elevator speech” prepared to describe your business or service.  Make sure you use every word carefully and powerfully.
  7. Pay it forward –  As you meet new people, aim to think of connections you can make for the person to whom you are speaking. People will naturally want to help you as well.
  8. Follow up and follow thru – Take all the business cards collected and connect on social media or email. Schedule for a brief coffee follow up.
  9. Patience, my dear – Remember it is a process. Chances are you won’t walk away with immediate new clients or customers from your next networking event.  However, you are building a brand name, circulating word of your services in the community and making key contacts.  People like  to do business with people they like and know.

Any other networking tips to share?

addONE Marketing Solutions delivers experienced, marketing staffing solutions to fit any size project or budget.  Filling marketing staffing gaps or providing affordable marketing solutions makes addONE marketing “the smartest addition you will ever make.” Atlanta-based and woman owned since 1998. Visit add1marketing.com for more information.

9 Comments

  1. Mickey on September 12, 2013 at 9:32 pm

    Great tips! I probably struggle the the most with your second item — finding the right organizations. Trial and error is the key.

    Tweaking the elevator speech is indeed very important, and it’s another area we’ve strived to improve on. It’s not perfect yet, but it’s getting better!

    • natalie on September 13, 2013 at 9:37 am

      Trial and error has been my experience too, Mickey. And if the organization is large and has multiple kinds of meetings (north of city, in town, luncheons, happy hour, etc…), that can also take a few times to navigate as well. Thanks Mickey!

  2. successnotsabotage on September 14, 2013 at 8:26 am

    Excellent tips Natalie, I agree that finding somewhere to serve is a great opportunity to connect and also setting one day for coffee connections. This is a wonderful get started connecting blog!

  3. rani on September 15, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    Good advice to follow, but hard to motivate sometimes! Attending events is invaluable to expanding your network. And if you know me, you’re one degree from Kevin Bacon as I met him here in ATL when he was filming a movie!

  4. Ali Green on September 15, 2013 at 11:10 pm

    Natalie – you’ve mapped out the steps to networking so well here. Sometimes it’s difficult to find your place in a big room of networking men and women. Remembering to ask open ended questions and LISTEN is great advice. Often times you feel as if you need to sell yourself, but letting others do the talking can be much more beneficial.

  5. Two steps to a career plan - addONE Marketing on September 24, 2013 at 11:14 am

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  6. […] 5.  Speaking of networking…meet and greet in expected and unexpected places. Obviously using your previous professional contacts is a given, but playgroups, school committees and community organizations are full of people in the workplace who would love to help you. Men are much better at exploiting their networks than women and it pays off for them, so women: be bold!  Click here for more networking tips. […]

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