Networking is probably the most despised necessity of all business related function but it is a necessity. So many CEOs and other C-Suite Manager complain about having to attend networking functions and yet they know the power of word of mouth and connecting with the right people and the opportunities those connections can bring. Even if you’re the most introverted person, supremely awkward in social situations, it becomes necessary to strap on your work face and go to it.
Prepare your elevator pitch so that you’re not 'umming' and 'ahhing' when someone asks you what you do or what your company is about. For JAGGAR, that’s “JAGGAR International is the ultimate online resource that seeks to mentor young women and seasoned executives alike in the pursuit of success and entrepreneurship.”
Short, sweet and to the point, then if the person wants to know more, you should have a couple of reinforcing statements prepared i.e. if the person asks how we aim to achieve our mission:
“By providing an online meeting place for likeminded women to gather and ask questions, create opportunities for networking, workshops and online learning to grow their skillset and help them to achieve their goals.”
This lends an air of confidence and professionalism to your first impression for even the most timid introvert.
Dress professionally and conservatively.
Cover up your tattoos – personally, I have seven tattoos that I’ll proudly display on the beach in summer or in my personal time but if I’m meeting people I don’t know, meeting the inlaws or potential business associates, the tattoos are invisible.
Choose an outfit that has character but is professional. You shouldn’t opt for the standard black skirt, white shirt, blazer combo if that’s not your style because you’re going to look uncomfortable and likely fidgeting with your outfit. Choose something you feel confident in but which won’t draw the entire crowd’s attention in a negative way.
A nice shift dress, a tailored suit – anything tailored to you will look amazing, covering up the obvious conservative no-nos and ensuring that your outfit is pressed, clean and the correct fit will go a long way to helping with your confidence in a networking situation.
Make sure your hair and make-up are tidy, carry breath mints and ensure that you haven’t overloaded on Chanel No. 5 a little too much before you leave the house.
If you’re really not the networking type, take a friend or colleague along or if you’re a freelancer, match up with other freelancers and attend together. Having a buddy with you means that you can quickly escape certain conversations and can back each other up when necessary – including pulling the escape rip-cord when it’s time to get out!