Everyone knows the popular saying “It’s not what you know, but who you know,” an ode to the importance of building a viable network of colleagues and mentors across disciplines in addition to gaining knowledge and experience. This holds true for not only marketing communications but also any other profession – networking is a key element in advancing in your career, enhancing your skill set and finding potential mentors.
This week, February 2-8th, is the 13th annual International Networking Week – an initiative where professionals are asked to recognize their network and celebrate the importance of networking.
Established in 2008 by BNI, an international business networking and referral organization, International Networking Week® highlights the opportunity to reflect on and thank those who are in your network.
In honor of International Networking Week®, a few Stratacomm team members shared tips, advice and best practices for growing your network in meaningful ways.
“Ask easy questions and listen…really listen to the response. You’ll be surprised when you actually listen instead of thinking of your response about where the conversation can go. And, remember to follow-up with individuals that you promise to follow-up with.”
Kristin Tyll, Partner & Managing Director
“I try to keep conversations social, so since it typically hasn’t already come up in conversation for me, I usually transition to asking them why they came to the networking event and what they hope to get out of it, and then share my own in return. Then politely give them my business card and say that I enjoyed meeting them, if they have any questions, feel free to reach out and ask for their contact information, but then excuse myself to meet others in the room.”
Jennifer Heilman Flanery, Vice President
“I’ve found establishing a ‘networking buddy’ (shout out to Tonie Wells and Ava Frakes), someone in your office or a friend who is willing to attend the same events you are, is an easy way to motivate yourself to get out there and network. When you’re at an event breaking the ice with others and meeting new people is less intimidating when you have someone you already know by your side or in the same room.”
Marcella Dudek, Senior Account Executive
“Be your authentic self, ask the person you are networking with their preferred method to follow up (email, phone, LinkedIn, etc.), don’t forget to say thank you, and always follow up!”
– Jack Connolly, Spring 2020 Intern
“Networking happens online and offline. Regularly engage and ‘show face’ with people in real-life and in online communities. When going to networking events, if you can view an attendee list in advance and then scope out a few people who you might want to talk to, be sure to check out their LinkedIn profile and come up with questions ahead of time. Once together, if you’re not comfortable talking about yourself then let other people talk and arm yourself with questions to get other people talking. You can ask, ‘are you planning any fun trips this summer’ or ‘is this a busy time of year for you?’ Rethink networking because it’s really an outdated concept. In every encounter, you’re meeting and interacting with new people. Make sure to ask questions, find out people’s interests and build relationships. This takes the pressure off.”
Karah Davenport, Vice President
“Remember your networks. Networks exist in real life, too – not just on Facebook! Don’t forget all the relationship building you did before your first job, which for many young professionals is when you were in college. A shared connection is an invaluable first step in starting a conversation with someone that can lead to a new business pursuit or other great networking events. Remember when you were a student member of a professional organization? Now is the time to upgrade that membership to professional status. You’ll open doors for yourself to a number of other events for free or low cost. If you ask them, your colleagues and/or mentors likely will also introduce you to their networks and you can tag along to events with them for introductions.”
Nicole Golvala, Senior Account Executive
“First and foremost, be yourself and don’t try to oversell. People can tell when you aren’t being genuine. Truly listen to people and ask thoughtful questions. Don’t go into a situation with an agenda, but more like you are simply trying to make a new friend. That’s the best way to build genuine personal connections. Lastly, if you know some of the attendees that will be there or that you would like to connect with, do your research and have some questions in your back pocket to start up a mutually interesting conversation.”
– Sarah Kuzdak, Account Supervisor
Tabinda Sial is an intern in Stratacomm’s Detroit office.