Networking seems like a no-brainer when you’re looking to meet new people either in a similar industry or with similar interests. Since moving to NYC a little overa year ago, I’ve become a member of PRSA-NY andAWNY (and two book clubs…don’t judge). With the encouragement of my current employer, I try to go to at least one networking event or conference per week. Especially as one just starting my career, I think it’s important to go to events to make new connections and to have my face be seen so that I will become a recognizable player the in the field. Additionally, the more events I go to in NYC, the city starts to feel less like a big, hectic place full of strangers, and more like a place of opportunity to meet the right people.
An event I attended this week that made me realize how beneficial networking can be to not only make new connections but to also serve as a way to help adjust to city life was a Young Professionals “”TweetUp”” event (#YPNYC). It was a lot of fun. I met several wonderful people in the same industry with similar interests whom I hope to stay in contact with. I found the event on Twitter and I thought it was an interesting concept: using Twitter as the medium to reach out to a certain audience about the event, bringing those people together to meet face-to-face, and then continuing those conversations afterward via Twitter or LinkedIn. Despite the modest size of the event, it was one of the more successful networking event I have gone to. What I’ve also realized (in my long, illustrious career and networking experience 😉 ) is that the size of the turnout of an event does not matter as long as the people in attendance have interesting backgrounds and provide enriching, inviting conversation.
For those who feel too shy to attend an event solo, I recommend trying it not once, not twice, but at least
three times. There’s a good chance that by the third event you attend alone you’ll feel more confident and comfortable entering a room full of strangers. My second piece of advice for those trying to get out there more is toNOT bring a friend along as a crutch. Everyone is there for the same reason, so it’s important to look approachable; people might be more intimidated to join a conversation if it seems like you and your pal are attached at the hip. If you do attend an event with a friend or co-worker, at least split up. I actually prefer going to networking events alone now because I can work a room at my own pace and talk to the people I want to without feeling obligated to stand and talk to the same group as my friend/co-worker.
Being able to develop a relationship with someone by either making an introduction through social media like Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook or using social media as a way to stay in contact is a powerful networking tool. When I attended the PR News Digital PR Summit, everyone was tweeting about the event using the event hashtag, and from there it was easy to connect with the people attending. The Digital PR Summit was a large event, so social media served as a vehicle to connect people even if they weren’t able to have any face time.
Networking can be a little scary, but all the pros are worth swallowing your fears and overcoming your nervousness. I also keep
telling myself that getting in the habit of frequently introducingmyself and making conversation at networking events will be helpful in my career as I interact with more and more clients. I strongly believe in the 3-touch rule in not only making an impression on potential business partners but also when making new friends to meet up with outside of events, and think social networks have become very useful mediums to continue the extension of that reach.