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Professional Networking Part 2 – “Meaningful Network Expansion”

Greetings WTC Mentoring Program Participants,

How you network and promote yourself in the real world as opposed to the virtual world can be quite different and it’s important to remember that giving attention to BOTH worlds is an important aspect to developing meaningful connections that you can leverage when necessary. Maintaining positive relationships with contacts you make at school or work is important. However, promoting yourself in the real-world takes time and energy, but the additional effort is well worth the benefits.

Find and attend targeted professional networking events. Research local professional development organizations and associations related to your career interests and find meetings that are taking place near you. Meeting others in-person will grow you in ways you might not have considered: sometimes the associations will offer a chance for you to meet an interesting speaker or they will provide some free education. If you’re a bit shy, consider volunteering to help out at such events. Sometimes it’s easier to talk with new people when you are part of the official team hosting the event. And at the very least, as a volunteer you have the opportunity to develop stronger connections with leaders in the Association you are helping.

When you go to networking events, be sure to dress professionally. This will communicate to others that you are serious about your career and you will project confidence, which people will respond to positively. Also, have material readily available such as a resume, portfolio, or business cards that you can give to the appropriate contacts. Use these tools to exchange information and remember to ask for another’s information in return (get an e-mail address, website, resume, or business card). Immediately write on the back of their card, the date, event name and location you met them so that when you review that information a few weeks or months later, you will remember the context.

Be ready for targeted conversation. Prepare for a networking event like you would prepare for an interview. Have relevant information and anecdotes about yourself, your goals and your accomplishments readily available so that you can promote to new acquaintances. Practice in the mirror! There’s nothing wrong with practicing how you will introduce yourself beforehand so when you are meeting new people you come across succinct and self-assured.

Finally, host your own event! You can host an event of any size: 5-10 people at a local coffee shop is a great starting goal. Just make sure you have a well thought-out agenda for everyone to participate in, so that those who attend feel their time was spent well. Bringing a smaller group together around shared interests will allow everyone to build strong networks with one another. Over time, your group may grow organically or you might encourage your group to merge with another group. By hosting your own event, you establish yourself as a leader in your field.

By taking these steps, your network will grow leaps and bounds and others will begin to look to you as valuable connector!

 

Action steps:

  • Protégées: Think about the kind of events and topics you believe would benefit your career. Start the preparation work mentioned above by refining your self-promoting materials as well as writing out your topics of conversation and points you wish to get across to a professional contact. Identify 2-3 professional associations in your area that you are hosting events you would like to attend.
  • Mentors: Based on your knowledge of your protégées career and goals, support her by offering suggestions on locating meaningful networking opportunities. Explore the idea of her hosting an event – what would the topic be? Who would be invited? How would she know if the event were a success? What steps might she take to create the event and by when?

We will be releasing news about our next WTC webinar shortly. Until then, we encourage you to engage with one another in our Linked In Group and check out any missed webinars on our Mentoring Resource Hub.

”I believe the choice to be excellent begins with aligning your thoughts and words with the intention to require more from yourself.” Oprah Winfrey

 

In Partnership with You,

The Women’s TechConnect Team

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