Your Personal Networking Cheat Sheet
A SKILL WE SHOULD ALL LEARN TO MASTER
Networking. This word can be very polarizing. Some people love it, and some people dread it. For the extroverted Admin, the idea of a happy hour packed with strangers is fueling and exhilarating; it’s a room full of potential connections. For my fellow introverts, a happy hour after work can just feel like…more work.
But let’s call a spade a spade. Regardless of whether you love it or hate it, networking is important. So, we’ve put together a cheat sheet for those of you who might need the extra nudge.
Why It’s Important: Let’s just state the obvious for a moment. These are the people you work with on a daily basis, so making connections within this group will increase your workplace happiness and potentially open up growth opportunities for you.
How to Hack It: If you work at a small company, chances are that you already have some level of relationship with at least a couple of your colleagues. Company happy hours and events (think quarterly offsites or celebrations) just provide the opportunity to have conversations with colleagues that you may not have meetings with or sit next to daily.
If you work at a larger company, networking can be slightly more daunting. Our secret? Have a buddy you can use as a home base. That way, you can wander off and socialize but you’ll know you have someone to seek out when you're stuck in an awkward convo.
These days, many companies (especially in the Bay Area) offer activities that are networking opportunities in disguise. Whether it’s a midday yoga class, an after-work baseball game, or an offsite volunteer day, a great way to connect with colleagues is over a shared interest – it gives you a place to kick off a real conversation rather than small-talking in circles over cocktails. So, the next time your team offers an out-of-office activity, jump on it. Don’t just wait until the end of year holiday party.
Why It’s Important: Connections matter – you know that. Networking is beneficial to both your personal and professional health. Not only did I land a job through networking, I’ve also found friends! Win-win.
How to Hack It: I’ve been to several happy hours throughout my career, from large and impersonal to small and intimate. My favorite networking experiences have been when I had common ground with others in the room. My networking jam would include an alma mater happy hour, an industry-relevant event or any volunteer opp.
While it’s great to take advantage of the smaller and more intimate events when they come around, chances are you’re going to get thrown into a huge and anonymous situation at some point. Annual conferences and skills-based seminars are just part of the deal, so you might as well learn how to navigate them like a pro.
NETWORKING CHEAT SHEET
Whether you’re looking to turn your networking skills up a notch or you’re just trying to learn the rules of the game, here are some simple hacks that will help get you to where you need to be.
Practice Your Power Pose: Stand up straight, shoulders back, and smile! When you exude confidence, it shows there’s no longer a need to “break the ice.” When you look like a pro networker, people will be approaching YOU. If this is the type of situation you get nervous about, you’re just going to have to fake it ‘til you make it. It’s healthy for us to get outside of our comfort zones every once in a while... and dare I say it, you might even have a little fun!
Dress for Success: While it’s important to dress appropriately for the occasion, it’s just as important that you are comfortable in what you’re wearing. Stress on the word “comfortable.” Make sure that whatever you throw on that day gives you surges of self-confidence and #bossbabe vibes.
Have Your Elevator Pitch on Deck: Whether you’re pitching your company or pitching yourself, come prepared! Make sure you have your elevator pitch rehearsed so that when asked, you can confidently present yourself in the best light with zero hesitation.
Bring a Buddy: As I mentioned before, having a buddy allows you to work the room while having the comfort of a partner-in-crime to fall back on. Hint: bring a buddy you trust and who will complement you in a professional environment. Credibility by association is important, people!
Be Prepared: Have your business cards at the ready! Need I say more? No one wants to be the person asking to borrow a pen or trying to find a spare napkin to write your email on. Don’t be that guy/gal.
Seek Out Opportunities That Make Sense for You: Luckily for you, Maven has already done the work for you! Maven Recruiting Group hosts Happy Hours, Networking Events, and Panel Workshops to help you stay connected to the Administrative Community. See you at the next one – you got this!
Written by: Julia Francis
August 2, 2019