PULSE CHECK! Do you have business cards on hand?
Check your purse, briefcase, wallet… covered? Good.
You never know you may meet and where. Make sure you have a business card at the ready.
Last week I attended what I thought was a small get-together, which in reality turned out to be a much larger extravaganza, complete with media presences and elevator cocktails — yes, elevator cocktails are real and they’re lovely. Good thing is, I was well-dressed and wore heels, as at 5’1″ I want to be able to be seen. 🙂
Bad thing was, I completely forgot business cards. D’oh. Fortunately, I was able to get business cards from those I spoke with and made sure I touched base first thing the following morning. I wouldn’t recommend going to an event, no matter how big or small you expect it to be, empty-handed. You just never know.
In a pinch? Consider making your own on Microsoft Publisher or a similar program and print them out on heavy cardstock, or visit your local printing shop.
Not currently permanently employed? Shed some light on your career goals. While finishing school, I included Digital Marketing Professional as it was more evergreen than listing my internship.
Tonight, I’m making my way to another networking event, which is aptly titled a “speed networking” event. Consider it like any other networking event, but more organized and on overdrive. Much like what one would expect from speed dating, there are rows of two-person tables; one person sits, the other person rotates. Conversations last around five minutes at most, so it’s wise to make that time count. Here are some speedy tips to navigate speed networking events swiftly.
- Have your elevator pitch prepared.
Not familiar with the term? Imagine yourself in an elevator with a senior leader of the company you work for: in those short moments, what would you tell them about yourself that would have the most impact? My elevator pitch involves my name (of course,) my title, my company (when outside of work) and a brief sentence or two on what I do, being sure to include accomplishments alongside responsibilities. (I’ll speak more to this in a future post.) Tonight, I’ll be sure to add a line on why I’m there — to get to know new, amazing, like-minded young professionals and therefore expand my circle.
2. Have a plan for the rest of the conversation.
So you have given your elevator pitch and heard theirs… now what? Be prepared for either extreme – your partner may be nervous, stumbling over their words, or ready to give you every minute detail of their life story. Make sure you keep the conversation on track. See where you can establish common threads — both personally and professionally. You never know if they’re looking for one more teammate for their intramural kickball team, or could use some freelance HTML-coding help that you’d be perfect for.
3. Be authentic and genuine.
If you make a connection with the person you’re speaking with, great! Keep it up! If you’re having a hard time, be grateful that you soon will be able to move on to the next person. Still treat the person with kindness, then gracefully exit. Make sure you shake hands with every person you speak with, both at the beginning and end of your conversation, and be authentic when you thank them for their time.
4. Follow up. Soon.
Be sure to send a prompt thank you note to every person you receive a business card from. You never know – this person could end up being an amazing future client, connector, or colleague! To help jog your memory later on, consider jotting a note or two about the person/conversation on the back of their business card, only if you can do so swiftly and discretely. This thank you note does not have to be anything fancy — no hand-written thank you note sealed in wax — an email or a message in your LinkedIn connection request will certainly suffice. Most important is that your message is sent within a reasonably urgent time-frame. Strive to send your note first thing the following morning as it reflects how much you appreciated speaking with that person and that you valued their time. Don’t leave anyone hanging – that’s not very nice!
Now, to wrap up the workday. Enjoy!
Have any questions? More tips? Leave them in the comments below.
The Post Grad Gal