How To: Navigate New Networking Turf
It´s Wednesday evening at the monthly networking event. The bar is packed with young, local, entrepreneurs like yourself, slightly uncomfortable but mostly eager. With drink in hand and name badge securely adhered to your freshly laundered polo, you scan the room for the all-important networking opportunity.
You spot three types of people:
- The Pro– Who effortlessly navigates the crowd, offering sound advice and impressive know-how in the industry.
- The Prude– Who cautiously observes the room and carefully chooses conversation in their comfort zone.
- The Petrified– Who, after twenty minutes of standing alone in an awkward, terrorized silence, parks by the bar to, at the very least, take full advantage of the discounted drinks.
Now, imagine if this was a networking event for professionals in a completely different industry from your own. Would the Pros be as confident? Or, would the Prudes even dare stray that far away from their safe shores? And, what about the Petrified?? Well, you´ll probably find them at Happy Hour down the street.
But, tackling new networking terrain doesn´t have to be a terrifying task. It can be a very rewarding, and often times essential, venture in growing your new business. To help you calm your networking nerves, here are 4 effective tips on how to successfully navigate new turf.
1. Surf the Turf!
Jump on The Net board and start surfing! If there is a certain industry you are unfamiliar with, Google, Facebook and Link yourself into that industry. Find out who the pros are, read their blogs and learn about the hot topics and what´s trending now. A little stalking, in this case, is encouraged!
Once you´ve armed yourself with a bit more knowledge of the unfamiliar industry, you´ll feel ready to move on to face-to-face combat.
2. Profit From The Pros!
Now, lace up your sneaks (or, perhaps a fancier shoe option), because it´s time to hit the streets! Email, message, tweet, CONNECT with industry leaders and make a date! Whether it´s at a large networking event or coffee down the street, getting some face time with the industry aces will be endlessly beneficial in your quest for new network domination.
Just make sure you remember to:
- BE HONEST! You´re new to the industry, so use this opportunity to be open and humble. And, a little flattery can go a long way! Let the pro know you admire what they´re doing in the industry and be upfront about what your objectives are and what you want to learn from them. The more transparent you are, the more authentic and likable you become, and the likelier the relationship will continue and grow.
- LISTEN and LEARN! Don´t overdue it by trying to impress with your newfound knowledge. Bring the hot topics and some broad questions about the industry, but let the pros do the talking. Again, networking is the perfect opportunity to receive real-world advice from an industry expert; you´re job is to stay OPEN, RECEPTIVE and EAGER to soak it all in!
3. Extend Your Expertise!
Even though you´re a newbie…DON´T BE INTIMIDATED! You didn´t get to this point without having your own expertise and contacts to bring to the table.
Own it! Ask about some of the most important needs of that industry, and offer your own resources that could potentially help. After all, this is the essence of networking! Oh yes, and FOLLOW-UP on your offers! You´ll reconfirm your authenticity and impress the socks off the experts!
4. Bring A Buddy!
If you´re still petrified at the thought of throwing yourself in the lion´s den of new networking territory, take a wingman! Nothing calms the nerves and prevents the standing-all-alone-by-the-bar nightmare like a familiar face in the crowd.
When you´re more comfortable, people will gravitate to your conversation and the networking will naturally happen!
Feeling more like a networking pro now? Great! Slap on your nametag, grab a drink and get your mingle on! With just a little research, honesty and confidence, you´ll be amazed at how much easier networking new turf can be!