The thought of networking opportunities brings to mind awkward small talk with strangers. You are trying to come up with things to say that will peak their interest and make the right first impression. But what is there to even talk about?
But networking doesn’t have to be this way. There are so many opportunities to make valuable business connection beyond the grind typically associated with networking.
Here are a few of our favorite ways to network:
1. Grab Coffee with Your Current or Past Co-workers
Going out for coffee with a coworker once a week may seem tedious, but it allows you to form an honest connection with the other members of your team. As a result, you will be the top of mind choice when that coworker has to recommend a person with your qualifications for the next project or group. Keeping in touch with your coworkers also helps your work environment and work experiences feel more genuine. When your coworkers move on to other jobs, they will remember when you took the time to get to know them on more than just the surface level of an office, and they can continue to be a valuable resource for opportunities in the future.
2. Reach Out to Your Social Media Network
The term social network means that our goal on social media should be to reach out and talk to new people online. Whenever I am considering a new position, I think of who might be able to help me land an interview whether it be through a relevant reference or a direct connection to a person already at the company.
One of tactic I utilize is a cold call. I reach out to someone with a mutual connection, and ask if they would be willing to meet up for coffee or a meal to just talk about their company to help me find direction in my career objectives. Regardless of whether that company has any positions open or not, it is nice to meet other people in your industry and learn about what they do. I’ve always been pleasantly surprised by how willing people are to meet with me to just talk and get to know one another and our individual roles as marketers. Social media helps make people accessible and while I would never suggest blind cold calls to every possible person, reaching out to people who may be key connections is a great way to meet people.
3. Friend of a Friend
I am never afraid to ask my friends if they know anybody looking for marketing help.. Even if they aren’t in my industry and don’t totally understand the scope of what I do, it gets their brain thinking. I have had many opportunities given to me just because a friend of a friend that is looking for help with content marketing, and my friend just happens to remember me mentioning that to them.
4. Running Errands
Savvy professionals are able to have rewarding interpersonal experiences in just about any situation, and out on the town is no exception. While on one hand, this feeds the “always on” mentality that is negatively associated with people in the business world, it is definitely a good mindset to have.
For me, it is about being kind to others and truly wanting to get to know them. If a conversation happens naturally, it is also very natural to ask what I do which can segue into a connection for an opportunity from there. The more that know you and what you do and the more people that like you, the more opportunities you have.
Your hair stylist knows more people in marketing than you might think.
5. Networking Events
It should be no surprise that one of our personal favorite networking opportunities is at networking events!
At networking events, people know the drill. No matter how awkward you might feel, it is easy to remind yourself that other people feel just as awkward. Everyone is just trying to get out there and get to know people while making pointless small talk.
Some of our favorite local networking events include the Triangle American Marketing Association which has several Link + Think events that allow you to connect with other marketing professionals. Check them out.
We are also looking forward to networking at the Internet Summit November 14-16 this year! Join us along with 2500 other marketers for seminars and workshops about the latest digital marketing tips and strategies. Ann Handley from MarketingProfs and Netflix Co-Founder Mitch Lowe are among the iconic speakers. Learn more here.
Of course, we can’t help but mention that another great place to meet people is at the next meeting of the Triangle Marketing Club! Our next meeting on November 14th will feature Tom Simon presenting at KnowledgeTree at 6pm.
Read about the November 14th meetup here.
Now get out there are start networking!