5 Not-So-Scary Tips for Successful Networking

5 Not-So-Scary Tips for Successful Networking

On Tuesday evening, November 3rd, 2015, Iris Amelia Febres, President of Bookbuilders of Boston, and Julie Anne Gniadek, Communications Committee board member spoke to students at Emerson College about the value and power of networking.

Wait—value and power? Since when?

No matter what negative connotations the word networking might bring up, this is what we told the students and what we want you to know: a story of power, confidence, and exciting possibilities and opportunities. That’s what networking really is.

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  1. Growing Your Professional Tree. You may have created a family tree before. Think of networking like a “professional” tree. It’s all in who you know.

When you think about the career ahead of you, you might think, “How do I get to my goal?” Your goal could be a job in publishing, working for a specific company, or even a specific position. Then, think about what you need to do to get to that goal. Your education, the groups you are associated with, your experience—these things are important, but a great deal of success and the journey in your career depends a lot on who you know.

  • The people you already know. Think about who you know right now. Your friends, your roommates, your family, your professors. Those individuals make up your world and could be vital instruments in the symphony of your career.
  • The people you get to know. You land your first job or a new job. You are taking the first steps into a new career. At this point, you meet coworkers, supervisors, team members from other departments and functional areas, and so on. Those are the people you get to know through your professional experience.
  • The people you choose to know. Then, the more time you spend working, adding to your experience, you learn who you need to know in order to boost your professional network and connections, and who could potentially help you further your career.

These groups of people are all branches and leaves that make up your professional tree. 

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  1. Branch Out…and Be Your Own Brand. We all live in our own little bubbles, so networking is all about busting out of that bubble and getting yourself out there. And in doing that, you need to establish a name—a brandfor yourself, kind of like businesses do.

Treat yourself—your career—like a business. Remember, your brand is highly connected through your personality, the passion you put into your work, and the name—your reputation—that you build for yourself through your career.

What does your brand look like? 

  1. Keep It Casual. So how do you network? Where do you go? How do you meet the “right” people? Well, you can start by attending casual networking events through Bookbuilders. 

Here are some specific tips on how to help you get over your nerves and network effectively:

  • Set goals. Before attending a networking event, set personal and professional goals for yourself. For example, a goal could be, “I’m going to introduce myself to three new people I don’t know.”
  • Refer back to the professional tree. Let’s go back to your professional tree for a second. Is there anyone on there or in your desired profession you’d like to meet or get to know better? If so, target that person and make it your goal to approach him or her at an event.
  • Break out of your comfort zone. Going to a networking event or a conference can be intimidating, overwhelming, and maybe even a little awkward—especially if you’re brave enough to go alone. But it can also be rewarding. Break the ice, approach strangers, introduce yourself, and be confident. 
  1. Follow Through. So you went to a networking event. And it was fun! But it’s not over yet: you still have work to do after the event.

Maybe you got a few business cards, email addresses, or phone numbers. Now you have to follow up. Connect with your new contacts on social media, add them to your contacts lists, email them a quick, “great to meet you!” message. Stay in touch. The key here is to build relationships and grow your professional tree.

  1. Wrap It Up. All in all, networking is what you make of it. Yes, it has a lot to do with confidence. Yes, it’s about conquering your fears. But don’t be afraid to show your audience who you are. Don’t be afraid to be memorable. And don’t be afraid to brand yourself.

Besides—if no one knows your skills, talents, and experience, then how are you going to make the best of them?

 

Sources:

 Check out some helpful networkers’ and job seekers’ checklists from HubSpot, here.

 

Julie Gniadek

About Julie Gniadek

Julie Anne Gniadek is a member of the Communications Committee on the Bookbuilders of Boston Board. By day, she is the Director of Production - Content and Graphics for Real Legal Marketing, a digital marketing agency. Before stepping into her full time role at Real Legal Marketing in June 2015, Julie came from the world of publishing, where she first became acquainted with Bookbuilders. For five years she worked as a senior project manager and sales operations manager at Pearson Education in Boston. She is also the owner and founder of her own business, J. H. Language Solutions, which specializes in web content management and editorial solutions. Julie has a Bachelor’s in Spanish, with a minor in Business Management from Anna Maria College in Paxton, Massachusetts, and a Master’s in Project Management from Bryant University in North Smithfield, Rhode Island. In addition to her Master’s, Julie is also PMP certified.