Statistics have shown that one in four individuals don’t network at all. The reasons may range from lacking enough time (which 41% of networkers admit is the case) to being used to seeing networking in a stereotypically unflattering light. The reputation of networking, unfortunately, is that a group of professionals is gathered in a room to mingle (usually with people they already know) or wallflower into the background if they’re too shy to start a conversation. Maybe you meet someone in your field, and maybe you don’t. At the end of the night, you may be wondering if the time invested was worth it.
If you feel this way networking throughout the rest of the year, why not switch it up and network during the summer months? If you’re ready to get out there and get noticed, heat up your networking techniques with these tips.
1. DO find the right event for you.
Tired of stuffy trade shows? Trade those in for groups where you are guaranteed to meet like-minded individuals and make valuable connections on your level. If you’re a public relations pro, look into joining your local PRSA chapter. Professional women of color in the communications space might want to check out networking events offered through ColorComm, and women seeking to live by the phrase “your tribe is your vibe” might find their future business partner or mentor at Lipstick Sister.
2. DON’T dress inappropriately.
It may be summertime, but this isn’t the time or place to bust out the mini shorts or crop tops. Need a few suggestions for what to wear so you can stay cool while looking professional? Try these options on for size.
- Swap out a maxi dress (that you could potentially trip in) for a mid-length skirt.
- Add a boyfriend blazer over a simple cotton dress to go from day to night.
- If you layer your ensemble, keep it light with a cardigan.
- Never underestimate the versatility of a simple, white top. (Just make sure your undergarments aren’t brightly colored underneath!)
- Wear a bold statement necklace or earrings for a pop of color.
- Make sure you can comfortably walk in your shoes.
3. DON’T get drunk.
This is a standard, networking 101 rule, but it’s especially crucial during the summer months when many events that offer complimentary alcoholic beverages take place on rooftop terraces. Not only does this look unprofessional, but it can be dangerous too. Stay hydrated with plenty of water instead.
4. DO bring along updated business cards.
It’s one thing to take business cards to a networking event. It’s another if you haven’t updated your cards recently and some of the information is outdated. Bring along your business cards, complete with updated contact information and your social media handles so new connections know where to find you online.
5. DO smile and be friendly.
If you don’t feel bold enough to walk up to a stranger and start talking, don’t push yourself beyond your comfort zone. Make yourself approachable by smiling and projecting a positive attitude.
6. DON’T spend the entire time looking at your phone.
We’re all guilty of doing this at networking events, even if we don’t mean to do it. It’s difficult to approach someone who appears engrossed in their smartphone, so try to keep yours stored away to avoid turning off a potential connection who wants to chat with you.
7. DO perfect your elevator pitch.
A summer networking event may be a bit more relaxed than it would be during another season, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still come prepared to pitch yourself and your business. When you do spark up a conversation with other attendees, make sure you have your elevator pitch ready to go and can enthusiastically discuss your startup with a new audience.
8. DO attend as many events as you can.
Post-event and after you’ve followed up with your new connections, you’ll likely have a little more confidence built up about the process — and may want to go to another one! Try to attend as many networking events as possible and seek out socials that fit into your schedule. Trust me, it’s worth your time.
If you're ready to reap the benefits of networking (new opportunities, added exposure, new connections, and referrals), use this list of networking tips to heat up your networking game this summer; you'll be glad you did!
What tips do you have for attending networking events during the summer months? Drop us a note; we'd love to hear from you!
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Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark and copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and Twitter.