For seven days at BlackEnterprise.com, we offer seven steps to refreshing and recharging your network — weather you’re an introvert or extrovert — so you’ll attract the right people and start building long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationships. Building a community of people who support you does takes time, but there are strategic ways you can get started expanding your professional network today!
BOSS MOVE, DAY FIVE: Put your networking skills to the test by attending a networking event.
Yes, networking online is important, but traditional face-to-face networking is still vital. So, don’t be afraid to get out there and meet people. If you don’t know where to start, try events hosted by professional groups, social clubs or trade organizations. Utilize resources such as social media, coworkers or fellow church members to find out what’s going on in your city.
Any event can be a networking opportunity, but you must keep in mind your objectives so you aren’t wasting valuable time. It’s not where you network, but it is more about what you do while networking. Be strategic and conscious of your goal when networking in any arena, whether it’s a conference, a birthday celebration, a work-related function or a leisure activity.
ACTION: Take these five steps when in a networking environment:
Be beautiful: When you look good, you feel good. It’s always great to have a polished look that suits you. Also, your outward appearance can speak volumes even before you utter a word.
Be confident: Always give a firm handshake and good eye contact. Shake the jitters off and come in with a positive, open mind. Speak up and get involved with interacting with people.
Be yourself: Whether you’re shy or outspoken, be authentic. People can tell when you are not, and it can be a major turn-off.
Be prepared: Bring plenty of business cards and if you can, know what key players will be in the room before attending an event.
Be present: Give whomever you are talking to your undivided attention. Listen to details and insights of interest to them, and find ways to remember who you connected with and why.
Cameka Smith is a speaker, educator, social entrepreneur and founder of The BOSS Network, a community of career and entrepreneurial women who support each other through conversation, online and via event-based networking. In addition, Smith provides resources for women entrepreneurs and professionals through workshops and speaking engagements. She is also a mentor and program facilitator for Project BOSS, which matches professionals with youth.