I've come to a point in my Arbonne career where I want to meet people outside of my demographic. Specifically people who are not friends with twenty-something theatre people. Since I am a part of the theatre network here in Chicago, finding people outside of it has been hard for me. Which led me to explore the world of networking. Before last night I had never been to a proper networking event. I think the term networking is so boring and stodgy. It sounds like a bunch of pushy people who are talking to you about why they're SO great. I like to replace the word network with connect and then the whole endeavor becomes much friendlier.
To find out more about the event and what I learned read below...
I got to the Renaissance hotel around 5 pm, I was a about an hour early and thus had some time to kill. The woman directing people in the lobby said the event was upstairs but they weren't checking people in until 5:30 and she suggested a drink at the lobby bar.
I grabbed a seat at the bar and struck up a conversation with the person next to me. He too was attending the event. I got to know a bit more about him in a casual and generally quiet setting. He was attending the event to chat about his companies' new liquor delivery app, Eliqxer. It's really a brilliant idea. They will be launching sometime in May. I told him all about Arbonne and the great people I get to work with. There was a nice dialogue happening. Making casual conversation is my preferred way to "network". Going to a giant party with about 500 strangers by myself was a bit more uncomfortable.
Once I got into the room, the atmosphere was drastically different than the quiet bar downstairs. It was loud and stuffed with people. Like at any party the bars and the food table were particularity crowded. So I took advantage of the opportunity. Crowded areas with people waiting in lines are great places to strike up a conversation. I like smiling and saying "Hi, I'm Steph" to get the ball rolling. It's not much harder than that. There was the occasional person who was clearly using the event just to talk about how great they are and could care less about what other people had to say. But for the most part, I chatted with some wonderful people.
I did have some great connections, and these were based on how we could help each other out, in business and/or life. I've found, in general, you've got to have something to bring to the conversation. Be it a genuine compliment for the other person, great book you just read that you can't stop suggesting, or an amazing product you totally believe in something to get the chat started. But before you launch in to a monologue all about yourself remember one thing; to be interesting, you must be interested. That means being genuinely interested in what the other person brings to the conversation and really listening to what they have to say and not simply waiting your turn to talk.
I had a great time and I look forward to the next one but for now the fun is in the follow up. It's all well and good that you made contacts but the most important thing to do is follow up with all of those people you clicked with. I like to call first and if I leave a voice message today I will follow up that with an email tomorrow. Speaking of I've gotta get back to my calls, until next time!
Oh! Here's the link for the Network After Work page. Maybe I'll see you there next time!