Networking: Do’s, don’ts and why you need to just do it

A room full of people that you don’t know. Introducing yourself to strangers, or groups that know one another and you’re the stranger.

Small talk.

Silence.

It’s just uncomfortable — for everyone, not just you. Such is the life of the working adult. Whether you are new on the job, or new in the room, we are constantly weaving in and out of comfortable networks and experiencing new ones. What we do in those environments matters. It matters a lot. Do you extend a hand and extend yourself to the new person on the team? Do you walk into a room full of strangers and introduce yourself? At Envisionit, we opened our doors to Capital Strategies Women’s Forum for their event on mastering networking. We had a great time with an engaging group of women, got some gentle reminders of networking musts and some encouragement about how to up our game on LinkedIn from Kim Stapleton of The Network Effect. Here are some of her LinkedIn Best Practices:

  • Be memorable. Have a professional headshot, customize your background photo and your URL. Use common keywords in your heading so it makes it easier for people to find and remember you.
  • Be easy to contact. Be sure you have complete contact information in your profile, including a second email address in case you find yourself in transition.
  • Enhance your profile. Add videos and presentations relevant to the services you provide, photos from events, emphasize your expertise and skills, join groups and follow influencers and companies etc. To enhance visibility, be sure to hyperlink the names of others in the content you are posting.
  • Post regularly. Develop a routine to post on a regular basis. Share valuable information about topics that tie to your business interests and position yourself as an expert and thought leader on par with other influential people in your industry. This will help you build your brand and grow your business.
  • Build your network. Don’t forget to connect with colleagues, family, and friends in the workplace, clients, prospects, centers of influence, and alumni. And always personalize your request to connect and reference where/when you met someone.And share, comment or like what other people post too.
  • Manage your privacy. Review your privacy settings to confirm how others see your profile and your activity, what information they can’t see and how information can be used. Ensure your profile and settings are current and represent your best self.

It’s not rocket science. But it is an art. Mastering your emotional self, getting comfortable with being uncomfortable is a practice. Tiosha Bailey, Executive Director of the Susan G. Komen Fund Chicago, Danica Wasser of Engagement Multiplier, and leadership coach, Betsy Westhoff and others all shared their experiences and learnings:

Allison K. Summers, author of “Connect to Influence, How to Leverage Relationships for a Lifetime of Career Success” encourages professionals to “think beyond the space you currently occupy.” She reminds us to focus on WHY you are connecting with someone and shares this in-person networking advice:

  1. Ready your head and your heart.
  2. Prepare for the conversation.
  3. Be a likeable super connector.
  4. Move out of the conversation.

For more insights from Allison, check out her book, available on Amazon.

Thank you Capital Strategies Investment Group for allowing us the very real privilege of hosting your dynamic Women’s Forum. You are indeed Empowered Women and the entire evening was an effort in Empowering Women. Brava!