Lots of us Gen Y’ers are more comfortable engaging through technology than face-to-face, so the thought of walking into a room and talking to strangers can be overwhelming. Sometimes the demands of our jobs/business include attending live events, so you just have to do it!
I was surprised to learn about how many business events are happening around BC every day! Networking events, workshops, business after hours, women business groups & service club meetings – there lots to choose from. Check out local event calendars at least one month in advance and see what resonates with your business, professional and personal goals and interests. Push your boundaries and choose an event that you have never attended. Take a friend!
Get to know who is who
I recently attended a Providers Forum that brought together various organizations that support entrepreneurs. Each group delivered a 15 minute presentations about how their services. After hearing from 9 organizations, I now have a better understanding of the great support networks available in my community. Attend these types of events in your community so you get to understand the big picture.
Avoid being a wall flower
I have a secret networking strategy that I use when I can’t find anyone to talk to. I head to the coffee or food tables! I find that when people are around food or drink they are more open and willing to strike up a conversation. Try it out next time you feel like a wall flower!
This can sometimes be the most challenging for me. Even if I feel like I made a real connection with someone at an event, I often don’t know what to say in a follow up email. In my experience, any kind of follow up is GOOD follow up. A simple- ‘it was nice to meet you’ or ‘I enjoyed learning about your company’ may be enough. I remind myself that it is the weak link in our networks that can sometimes be the most important, leading us to that introduction that could land us our dream job or new client.