7 tips for making networking easier

The cocktail reception at a conference. The Facebook group meetup. The after-work social. The period before a lunch or panel discussion starts.

All of these events are great opportunities for networking. But, some people cringe when faced with a similar scenario.

If that’s you, remember that networking is worth the work. Your network is important no matter where you are in life. It’s helpful for seeking a job, advancing in your career, learning from peers or a mentor, or even expanding your social circle. Taking the time to make connections and build your network now is therefore a life-long investment.

People networking at an office event.

Need a hand making networking easier?Put these seven tips into practice and make the most of your next networking event.

  • Tip 1: Dress to impress – Plan to wear something that you feel great in. Business casual is a good rule of thumb even if the event is casual in nature, unless the event details list more formal wear. You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.
  • Tip 2: Ready, set, research – Research attendees and come prepared with questions in case you have the opportunity to speak with them, just as you would for a job interview or informational interview. For example, if it’s a conference, learn who’s speaking or presenting a poster. If it’s a Facebook group meetup, check out the profiles of others in the group. Look into their current jobs, published papers, or businesses, and jot down things that you’re curious about. Also, find people’s photos so that you know who’s who when you’re there. But, there’s one trick to this tip – you can’t be creepy when you mention what you learned in your research! Use your newly-found knowledge as a quick springboard into a conversation. Try starting with “Tell me a bit about the project your company worked on…” or, “Tell me about your most-recent published paper, which I thought was fascinating because…”
  • Tip 3: Quality over quantity – Don’t overestimate how many people you’ll chat with at an event. Opportunities for quality conversations are valuable. If there are a few people who you’d love to meet based on your research, focus your efforts on trying to connect with them. But, if you spark a conversation with someone new and it flows well, keep it going.
  • Tip 4: Put pen to paper – Bring a pen and notebook (for example, a small Moleskine). You’ll be prepared to make a note in case someone you’re speaking with gives you a helpful tip or a resource to check out later. This way, you can avoid having to type a note in your phone, which the other person might interpret as you being distracted by a text or email. Taking the time to write down notes will also demonstrate that you value and respect what they’re saying.
  • A purse containing a smartphone, notebook and pen.

  • Tip 5: Counting (business) cards – Double check that you have extra business cards to hand out if you have them. When receiving a business card, take it gracefully and let the person see you put it in a safe place, like your wallet or purse, to show that their contact information is important to you.
  • Tip 6: Follow up promptly – If you’d like to establish a relationship with someone you met, follow up with them later in the same day or the next day. The timing is very important! As time passes, you’re more likely to forget what you talked about, or they may even forget that they met you. Send an email or direct message and thank the person for telling you something new, or for the time they took to speak with you. Invite them to stay in touch with you however you think is most appropriate, such as via email, Twitter or LinkedIn.
  • Tip 7: Lastly, confidence is key – Be yourself and stay relaxed. If that means having a drink (at a licensed event) then go ahead, just don’t go overboard!
  • Do you have other tips for making networking easier? Share in the comments.

    Image credits: Pixabay.com.

    Gender balance makes dollars and sense

    Today is International Women’s Day (IWD), which celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. IWD marks a call-to-action for accelerating gender balance.

    This year’s theme is #BalanceforBetter because:

    “Balance is not a women’s issue, it’s a business issue. The race is on for the gender-balanced boardroom, a gender-balanced government, gender-balanced media coverage, a gender-balance of employees, more gender-balance in wealth, gender-balanced sports coverage. Gender balance is essential for economies and communities to thrive.”

    – internationalwomensday.com

    By striking the #BalanceforBetter pose, just like the photos in this post, you can help to raise awareness of this important cause.

    Striking a pose for the #BalanceforBetter campaign.

    Why bother? Gender balance would make a big impact on the world’s economy. A 2019 McKinsey Global Institute report found that $12 trillion could be added to global gross domestic product (GDP) by 2025 by advancing women’s equality. The report stressed that public, private and social sectors will need to act to close gender gaps in both work and society.

    But just getting a foot in the door can be a challenge. The results of a study of women in the UK revealed that 17 per cent of women believe they had a job application denied solely just because of being female. A further 18 per cent felt their applications were denied because of personal opinion.

    That said, progressive companies are already taking the steps towards recognizing the contributions of women in the workplace. For example, last year, I reported on how Salesforce’s CEO assessed the salaries of the company’s female and male employees to determine if gender-based pay inequality existed, and then corrected the inequalities as required.

    And there’s still more work to do to unleash the potential of gender balance.

    How can you help?

    Raise awareness of the need for gender balance by posting a photo of yourself striking the #BalanceforBetter pose on social media, using the #IWD2019 hashtag. Visit internationalwomensday.com or follow IWD on Twitter and Instagram to learn more about building a gender-balanced world.

    Another #BalanceforBetter pose.

    Image credits: Laine Bodnar.

    Eat your way to a successful career

    March is Nutrition Month. It’s the perfect time to think about improving what we eat.

    We know that eating a healthy, balanced diet has myriad benefits for our health. But did you know that eating better can also help fuel a successful career? Find out how your diet impacts your production and performance below.

    Plate of cookies next to laptop

    • What we eat impacts our cognitive ability. Harvard Business Review reports on how foods are processed by the body at different rates, having various impacts on the supply of glucose that the body requires to fuel the brain. Foods that are high in sugar cause a spike in energy followed by a mental slump, while high-fat foods take more energy to digest, which causes grogginess. Also, an empty stomach can make it hard to focus.
    • Food choices can impact mood, happiness and creativity. A study found that eating more fruits and vegetables has a positive impact on these aspects of our lives.
    • Feeling thirsty? Water is the best choice to quench your thirst during the work day. Dehydration can impair clear thinking and decision-making abilities.

    Want to learn more about eating well? Good places to start are the Dietitians of Canada’s new Unlock Food website, as well as Canada’s Food Guide.

    Do you try to eat well during the work day? Share in the comments.

    Image credits: Pixabay.com.