I’ll be the first to admit, I’m rather horrible at networking. Part of the reason I joined the MIM social media team was to become more involved in these types of events and begin to build my brand. Although not my first plunge into this stressful and awkward situation, I recently attended two networking events in the same day: a Digital Marketing Breakfast and the SEMpdx Networking Rooftop Party. While my goal for the first event was more to learn about social media marketing than to network, the day began splendidly with a locked door.
Lesson Number 1: Always be friendly and make the best of your circumstances.
Who says a locked door doesn’t open new possibilities? I was outside the PSU Urban Center looking for another entrance to the digital marketing breakfast, when another attendee walked up to the same door I had recently attempted to open. Instead of heading around the building to the other door, I walked back and began chatting with him about our temporary problem. Even something as simple as a shared circumstance can easily start conversation.
Lesson Number 2: Remember Names
While I can easily recognize people by face, remembering names has always been a bit harder for me. Therefore I’ve taken the advice of many networking articles and blogs by repeating back someone’s name soon after our introduction. By saying their name out loud, it helps me attach a verbal memory to our conversation and even without a business card I can remember their name and how I met them.
Lesson Number 3: Ask Questions
Asking questions shows your interest in the other person and keeps the conversation from rolling to a stop. Use this as an opportunity to delve into their interests and see what resources they have as there could be something that applies to you. The attendee I met at the door happened to be an entrepreneur who was willing to share his start-up resources with me. It never hurts to ask.
Lesson Number 4: Standing Out Makes A Difference
My second event of the day, a rooftop party hosted by Oregon’s Search Engine Marketing association, was overwhelming compared with the digital marketing breakfast. With hundreds of people in attendance huddled in groups of twos and threes, it’s difficult to know where to go or who to talk to. However, as my small MIM group was looking for anyone we might know, we spotted a man sporting the new Google Glass. Having peaked our interest in this new exciting technology, we introduced ourselves and asked to try them out. As we stood there testing the product and chatting to the owners (who were not from Google) more and more people came up to see the Google Glass. This was a brilliant move to invite new people to come introduce themselves as opposed to wading through the crowd for an opening. While the latest tech may not be in your networking budget, it always helps to find other ways to stand out and be creative.
Lesson Number 5: Just Do It
Practice makes perfect and while I’ve picked up many tips from secondary resources, the best way to become comfortable with networking is simply to do it more often. MIM students have numerous opportunities for networking, so make sure to pay attention to those weekly email blasts and the Facebook and Twitter pages to get updates on what’s happening when. Good luck!
Juli Tejadilla is a full-time student in the Masters of International Management program. She previously graduated with two Bachelor of Arts in Marketing and Studio Art from Linfield College. While her interest in international business began as an undergraduate student, she has been traveling around the world since she was nine months old. She hopes through the MIM program to learn key insights to conduct business internationally and to establish herself as a global citizen.