Last week, I attended a networking event, as a “dry run” for an upcoming push toward getting out there with our new consulting arm, ModPii. I observed some things that I found interesting, and would probably be of use to others out there.
Networking for fun
The most important rule: have fun! If you aren’t having fun, you will allow the pressures of the moment effect you. It doesn’t matter who you are, people enjoy a relaxed, fun demeanor more than a “get it done” one.
So, relax. Have a snack. Joke with people around you. Talk about your hobbies. Have fun!
Maintain a personal brand
The logo that I use for this site and for the main House of Czetty site are an important part of our brand. My personal logo is a close match to my personal style. I am nearly always found wearing a fedora, and I prefer a bow tie when I wear one.
I was probably overdressed by some standards, but the fedora, bow tie, and bright colors made me stand out. Everybody I talked to had already noticed me, and they were interested to talk to me from the moment we shook hands. Those that I have contacted or will contact in the future will likely remember me and my message.
Don’t be desperate
Seriously, don’t walk in with the expectation that you are going to walk out with a new client or a new job. You should hope for some leads, maybe a follow-up interview or two, but that’s about it.
The particular event I was attending was a interview event, so I had the opportunity to sit down one-on-one with multiple hiring managers, for short periods of time. I started flat-out with my goal: to network and see what is out there. As we spoke, I didn’t try to oversell myself or my skills, I just told them a little bit about who I am, and what I do.
I could see the interviewers I spoke with visibly relax, and we were able to have an honest conversation free of the stress of either of us trying to sell anything. I feel I gleaned a lot more about the companies than I would have otherwise, and I got a lot of genuine interest in my services in return.
You should put your best foot forward, but don’t be fake. Success doesn’t come from being someone you are not. After all, who do you know better? Yourself, or someone you made up? (I’ll give you a pass if you’re a fiction writer.) Networking is about adding yourself to a group, not becoming another cog. Remember that potential clients or employers are looking for good compliments to their team, not clones.
I find it difficult, at times, to just be myself in events like these, and I am tempted to build a persona for the person in front of me. This puts stress on me, and it also puts it on others. Nobody is going to have much fun, and some might be actively turned off.
To sum it up:
- First and foremost: have fun and don’t let yourself be intimidated.
- Do something that stands out, perhaps by dressing in a signature way, having a catch phrase, or doing something else that is uniquely you.
- Have an agenda, but don’t make it so prevalent that you come off as desperate.
- Do not try to be someone you are not, or conform to the expectations of others. You are uniquely you, and you must never forget that.