Even with all the technology social media today, nothing beats the old-fashioned one-on-one personal meeting. There’s a certain connection that is made and a rapport that’s developed very quickly upon a live in-person meeting. I recently moved to the
Bay Area from Los Angeles. One f the first places I looked to expand my professional network is USC. Luckily, the Trojan family is very strong and there’s plenty of opportunities even up here. Here are some tips I found useful when I am networking with alumni:
Tip #1 – Your university alumni network is a great resource. With everyone being online now, its easy to track down your college buddies via the university’s alumni webpage, LinkedIn groups, Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, Google+, etc. Attending an alumni event is always a good way of expanding your professional network and maybe connect with old friends.
Tip #2 – Get noticed, if you were asked to speak or have an opportunity to speak, don’t be shy. Grab the microphone and be ready with a snazzy intro. First impressions are everything. In the photos, I’m wearing a hot pink scarf when caught a lot of people’s eye, so the photographer took plenty of photos, especially during my speech. So when the alumni followed up with me via email, the scarf was mentioned multiple times.
Tip #3 – When speaking in front of a crowd, I tend to scan the room to see the audience. If I’m ever nervous I just make eye contact from time to time with a friendly face. It’s natural, just take a breath and wing it!
Tip #4 – Work the crowd, shake as many hands as possible. However, remember, whenever given an opportunity, always speak to someone one-on-one for a more meaningful conversation. It’s amazing what might come out of a 2 minute conversation even at an expo.
Tip #5 – Always bring some cards with you. After you exchange cards and they walked away, flip over the card and write how and where you met this other person so you could follow-up later. Maybe a hint on your conversation to jog your memory.
Tip #6 – If you are speaking to someone you really want to follow-up with but you forgot your cards, ask for their phone number or email and send them a quick text or email immediately.
Tip #7 – As soon as possible, follow-up with any conversations you might have had with someone. Do this while you are still fresh in their minds. Ask them for out for coffee or a meeting if possible.
Tip #8 – I’m not sure on the etiquette of this, but some people follow-up but adding this new person as a contact on Linkedin and other social media sites. Personally, I do not do this unless I have had extensive conversations with this person so my actually know my network of contacts. Others dislike being requested to add after just a quick first meeting.
Tip #9 – Networking for me is about meeting new people with the goal of meeting someone interesting. Through the conversation I learn about them and what they are doing currently and I often listen to see if that person is in need of anything. If they are and I could assist, I often volunteer to do something nice such as connect them with someone else that could help. Connections and synergy is what it’s about.
Tip #10 – Be genuine. People could tell right away if you aren’t, so just be yourself.
Remember…follow-up, follow-up, follow-up is key to your success. Good Luck!