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You Grow Girl: Tips for Successful Networking

Recently I attended a networking event for women photographers in the Milwaukee area. It was good for the soul. I walked away from the event with more knowledge in my field, more confidence in myself and more connections with other women entrepreneurs on the rise. Networking is all about growth; both professionally and personally. Networking opens up doors you might not know exist. Networking is opportunity. It is community. Women in particular prioritize the importance of having a strong centers of influence and relish opportunities to grow. Recently, I read an article by the Harvard Review Business Review that discussed the success women have seen in recent years when it comes to networking. Their research showed that women had a slight advantage over their male counterparts when it came to networking results. According to the article, women tend to be more efficient, nimble, boundary-spanning and energetic. Preach Ladies!

Knowing all that, let's talk about the HOW behind networking. We've established that it's important, but it can also be intimidating. Building a professional or personal brand is no easy feat, it helps to have avenues of information and support. Below are some key networking tips, ideas for growing your network and a few pointers for planning a successful networking event.

Key Networking Skills

  • Come prepared. Arrive at the event with a plan. For example, who do you want to meet at the event and what questions do you have about the topic being discussed? Make a list; mental or literal.

  • Make a solid introduction. In the corporate world this is known as an "elevator pitch" but it is applies anywhere.

  • Make eye contact and have a firm handshake ready. Both display confidence.

  • Repeat the names of people you meet.. Especially if there are no name tags, repeating the name of the person you just met helps cement it into your brain.

  • Bring business cards or have the QR code to your LinkedIn profile or website on the ready.

  • Be a connector. If you have a chance to connect other attendees at the event, do it. Be the bridge to bringing other women together.

  • Work the room. It's easy to latch on to people you already know. The point of networking is to meet as many new people as possible.

  • Practice Active Listening Skills. Make sure to listen as much as you share.

  • Post-Plan. Have a plan for following-up with the people you meet.

Growing Your Network

  • GET SOCIAL! (LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook). This means you will need a good headshot!

  • Join Professional Organizations.

  • Volunteer or serve on a board.

  • Attend classes, workshops or trainings in your field.

  • Get involved with your alumni organization.

  • Attend virtual events.

  • Join an employee resource group at your company.

Planning a Successful Networking Event

  • Have an agenda and send it ahead of time to all attendees.

  • Have an icebreaker to get the event going and help everyone start to connect.

  • Offer an educational component in the agenda.

  • Allow plenty of time for general mingling.

  • Provide beverages and snacks.

  • Consider giveaways or prizes.

  • Provide attendees with a list of all participants and their social handles.

  • End the event something inspiring or a call to action.

  • Send a thank you and a survey for feedback after the event.

"Networking is the No. 1 unwritten rule of success in business." - Sallie Krawcheck. Ladies, take control of your success while feeding your soul at the same time. Get out there today and find your people!

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