Networking is one of those topics I keep saying that one day I'm going to do a workshop on. It certainly is one of those areas of 'love/hate' that many of us feel.
I've written about networking before, but with FNCE (ADA's Food and Nutrition Conference and Exhibition) just around the corner, I thought today would be a good one to get your head in line with networking.
If you are going to FNCE, or any networking event, for that matter, what can you do to take the fear out of networking and make it fun? Here are a couple tips:
1. Do NOT make it about you! We so often anguish about how to tell people what we do. However, effective networking isn't about US, but about the people we meet! It really does help your anxiety when you take it away from being about you - just be curious about the people you meet and ask them a lot of questions. Trust me; we all are experts about ourselves and can talk on that subject quite easily.
2. Always have more business cards than you think you need. Hand them out like candy at Halloween, too! You never know who might pass your card onto someone who would be interested in your services. In some pieces on networking, they say be stingy with your cards, but I don't agree with this. What good are those cards sitting in your pocket??
3. When you receive a card from someone who interests you, make a note on their card with something that will remind you about them. Then, when you get home, always follow up with the people you met. Ideally, within that first week. Naturally, there may be people you don't care to follow up with (I've met TONS of insurance agents at networking events!), so don't feel you have to follow up with them all. But, I imagine there will be at least one to three people you'd like to at least say hi to, to create some type of relationship with. You may not stay in close touch, but you never know when you might want to contact them or they you.
4. Set one goal to achieve at the event. An example might be to meet one particular person. Or meet one NEW person who you might have something in common with. Maybe to meet someone who would be nice to get to know better, either as a friend or someone to collaborate with. Another example could something as simple as speaking to three people you don't know!
And, as you start to plan your trip to FNCE, I encourage you to plan what YOU would like to achieve at the various networking events!
Naturally, you'll want to attend all the SCAN events.
But, as Chair of NE (Nutrition Entrepreneurs) DPG, I also would like to invite you to our Pay it Forward Networking reception on Saturday night! Only a few tickets are available, so you should sign up, now. But, would you like to meet someone like Nancy Clark? Or perhaps you would like to win her book? This event isn't JUST a time to come and browse around with others; it will be an event where you learn HOW to network!
Make FNCE, or any event, count for you! By taking control of what you would like to GET out of these events, you take control of the power networking can play in growing your business OR your career.
Marjorie Geiser, MBA, RD, NSCA-CPT