I know you all loved my previous part 1 of 3 post on networking, right? Right? I know! I’m sorry! I know I wrote part 1 in early May, but this little someone has been preoccupied with work and other blog topics since moving to New York City. I have some down time here at my new place now to focus on helping YOU. With more blog posts. I love writing these, don’t think I forgot about you.
Previously we discussed social media networking (pt 1 of our 3-part blog post). To bring you back to date, we had established that social media’s objective is to get your name out there and to stay fresh in all your fans’ minds. Networking brings you the valuable connections.
Visit the previous part 1 blog to refresh your memory on the dos and don’ts of all your social media outlets.
Chance encounters are something you want to make sure to take advantage of, especially if you have a full time job and you don’t have money to go meet people at industry-related events. While this form of networking isn’t quite as useful as other forms of networking, every little bit helps.
OBJECTIVE: The objective of effective chance encounter networking is to not only create a contact where there previously was none, but also to create a contact that could become mutually beneficial.
WHERE: Keep your eye out on the public transit because many chance encounters happen there every day. In fact, other than excited family members networking for me, the public transit is really the only place I’ve made valuable random connections.
The most valuable connection I’ve made that had actually resulted in a shoot for a new magazine was thanks to a bus ride into Seattle one day.
Be on your toes at all times, however, because you never know when or where you will run into someone who will be a valuable connection for you.
IMAGE: Appearance (and obviously hygiene) are both part of a first impression. Look like a professional at all times. These are chance encounters, remember? So if you go out looking like a slob, that limits your ability to network appropriately, and, frankly, cuts down on your confidence levels.
People are impressed by a nice image, so dress your part. You have a reputation to upkeep.
If you don’t know what to wear, then go people- and mannequin-watching! Take bits and pieces of what impresses you the most from what people are wearing, and use it to help you dress up. Perhaps you can even go shopping for fashionable re-purposed clothing at Better off Threads. Or you could always hire someone to help you shop for your wardrobe.
BUSINESS CARDS: Firstly, never go anywhere without your own business cards. At least have a pen and paper on hand so you can write and receive contact information. The key is to always be prepared so you’re not caught unawares.
Secondly, put time and thought into your business cards. I have found that people are impressed by thoughtful cards. If you are unsure about the layout and appearance, you should probably keep working on it.
Business cards should be:
- Clean, simple, and easy to read
- Classy. Refrain from cheesy font
- Effective. Include:
- Name or name of company/store
- Phone number
- A solid, tasteful image or display of your work (if applicable)
- No more than one photo per side
- Any professional title(s)
I made my business card on a photoshop program for MAC, which was a free download, called Gimp. While not the best program, it works and it’s free if you are lacking a proper program. Make sure your card is a large, proportionate file that you can upload as a flat image to Vista Print and fit into their business card mold. Mine was originally 576×1008. Vista Print also allows you to customize the card from their website as well, but it is limiting. Remember that a small amount of space on all sides of your card will be cut off, so plan accordingly.
Vista Print has many affordable options. You can choose whatever works best to fit your needs.
BE ATTENTIVE AND SMOOTH: DUH. Only you can handle that part when meeting new people. Be friendly and personable with this person. Take turns with the conversation, yadda yadda. All the important socialite rules. If you’re not very sociable, practice with a friend. Social skills are a must-have in any kind of networking industry.
Don’t forget to give them your card or information. Please don’t be awkward about it (you practiced your social skills, remember??). Give them some way to contact you and insist on getting their email or number down to follow up with them.
FOLLOW-UP: They have your email, but that doesn’t mean they’re actually going to reach out to you. Assume they aren’t going to take any initiative. You are the only one in charge of your career and you can’t depend on someone else to make things happen for you, so follow up with them! You did all that work networking so don’t let it go to waste.
Contact your new acquaintance and tell them how nice it was to meet them. You’re looking forward to future collaborations. Be creative. Unlike speaking in person, you can write and rewrite your email as many times as you want (I prefer emailing, rather than calling). I make a habit of following up within 24-48 hours of meeting.
After you’ve followed all the steps, don’t get down on yourself if nothing comes of it. People like to help, but they also prefer not to go too much out of their way unless they are very generous or excited about meeting you. Just because they didn’t help you like you had hoped, doesn’t mean you’re bad at what you do.
You are going to get more no’s than you ever will get yes’s. That’s almost a fact of life. Unless you are one of the lucky ones. In which case, congrats on all your yes’s and getting the world handed to you on a silver platter! (Why are you even reading this?).
Briauna Mariah (: