Excerpt found in Connect, New York Women In Communications
Networking Face To Face: 5 Tips
By Ginny Pulos
Spring 2009, Vol. 2, No. 2, pp. 10-12
President Harry S. Truman once quipped, “It’s a recession when your neighbor loses his job; it’s a depression when you lose yours.” We all know the bad news. The good
news is that there are more tools available today to help people connect than ever before. Yet even with help from online tools (see page 12), networking is still a face-to-face job. So chin up. You can keep a position, move ahead or land a new job even in today’s unnerving economic climate. Here are five tips.
1. Develop stories to tell about yourself. I recently coached someone who hated speaking about herself. I suggested that she ask a client, good friend, boss and co-worker to tell her via email what they know and like about her—and why they value her. Reviewing the responses, we saw certain recurring words—leader, go-getter, ethical. I asked her why people used these words to describe her, and we uncov- ered the stories around those words. Then we honed the stories so she could relate them effortlessly. Last week, she was offered her dream job and said she’d never have succeeded in the interview process without those stories. Moral? Perfect stories to tell confidently about yourself—and insert them when you believe they will entertain people, assist them with a problem or help them get to know you.
2. Make your stories brief. Be sure to tell about a person, engage an emotion and end on a high note. For instance, I often tell people that when I started my business, in another down market, I felt as though natives were chasing me toward some cliffs and sharks were swimming below. So I held my nose, took a dive and outswam the sharks! This vignette usually leads to a conversation about being scared, taking risks, overcoming pitfalls and gaining the strength to go for it. Stories that create pictures and invoke positive emotions make us memorable.
3. Think fun and be friendly. If you’ve lost your job, you haven’t lost your identity—you’re still a superb editor, an amazing PR exec- utive, the most creative ad woman this side of Mars—so introduce yourself in the present tense. Not I was, but I am! Then tell people what you believe is the right next step on your career path. But don’t take yourself too seriously. I can say I’m president of a speech, media and train- ing consultancy that helps your CEO look and sound like Cary Grant or Audrey Hepburn in the media spotlight. Or, I can say I’m a third-generation Greek- American who had her own Big Fat Greek Wedding in Greece. Use your imagi- nation to be memorable and engaging—and open the path toward a friendship.
4. Be aware of your nonverbal behavior. People make instant judgments about us in the first seven seconds we meet, so if you have energy, you create impact. Are you frightened, desperate, depressed, down? Alter your state of mind in a nanosecond with this little trick that’s silly but effective and fun. Before meeting someone, play the “Miss America” or “Rocky” theme in your head as you walk into the room. While you’re feeling as if you have the world at your feet or just conquered Mount Everest, take in the energy of the room. Then engage.
5. Do your homework. If you’d like to meet someone specific, call everyone you know to practice your own “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.” Contact friends or colleagues who might be willing to intro- duce you. It’s a great excuse to connect, talk about goals and ask for what you need. Be patient. Ask gently. All the energy in the universe is bound to assist you. Meanwhile, get familiar with your target person’s outlook and interests. By now, we all know about Obama’s passion for key issues and also about his hobbies—basketball, family, reading, staying connected via BlackBerry and housebreaking puppies. See? We could engage him easily.
Networking can happen anywhere—in the grocery store, at a child’s softball game, even on the subway. When I found myself lost in Forest Hills recently before I could get off a diverted train, I asked a young woman for help. As we settled in for the ride back toward Manhattan, I learned that she was looking for an entrée into the nonprofit world. I suggested she contact a New York Women in Communications colleague to ask for guidance. Within two weeks, she not only got inside the door, she got a great job.
Networking is best when it’s a way of life. We get back what we give. Through consistent acts of friendship and generosity, we can ensure our own future via- bility and our resilience in any economy.
Meet other members at our events. Introduce yourself to NYWICI staff or board members, identified by ribbons on their nametags, if you need a place to start.
Use our Member Directory on nywici.org to find women in specific fields or at specific companies.