I Want To See You Be Brave – A Beginner’s Guide to Networking

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I love the song “Brave” by Sara Barielles on many levels.  When talking with North Park University graduating students at the Etiquette and Networking dinner on March 27, 2014, I wanted them to walk away with the beliefs from her lyrics of  “You can be amazing!” and “Say what you want to say honestly, I want to see you be brave.”

What does this have to do with Networking?  I think that these are a couple components of successful networking. One is believing you are amazing, not arrogant. You have a great story based on YOUR life.  Another component is bravery when interacting with others either in a familiar or unfamiliar setting.

A couple of items to remember when introducing yourself include:

  1. Introduce yourself using your name
  2. Shake hands
  3. Have eye contact
  4. Speak clearly
  5. Speak confidently with a good flow
  6. Make yourself memorable? (be authentic and compelling)


Networking. What exactly is it?  

Networking is such a powerful entity.  It’s an exchange of information between individuals and groups.  You’ve heard of “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”  There is true validity to this; not saying you don’t have to be knowledgeable, but networking yields knowledge beyond yourself.  If you have a strong network, you have access to answers and solutions versus obtaining it blindly both professionally and personally.   Wouldn’t you rather call someone you know and trust to help you with an electrical problem in your home versus google “electricians” and pick one randomly?    Have you ever gotten an opportunity to do something perhaps an internship, a job, go to an event, got a huge discount all because someone provided you an introduction? 

You only have one shot and 10 seconds to make a first impression so let’s talk about making YOU as amazing as you can be.

 Specific tips to try

My mantra is to try and make everything a no brainer. How you take care of yourself is typically the first impression of you.  Let’s eliminate the variables.

YOU: Physical Aspect

  • Dress appropriately for the situation (business attire vs nightclub attire, be clean and pressed, shoes in good shape)
  • Hygiene (clean hair, clean body, good breath, appropriate make up, cologne/perfume appropriate, nails trimmed)
  • Posture
  • Be on time

YOU: Mental Aspect

  • Check your attitude: Are you conveying a positive of negative attitude?
  • Are you feeling good about yourself?
  • Eat good foods
  • Exercise
  • Get enough sleep
  • Reduce your stress

YOU and Others: Psychological Aspect

  • Make sure you are listening
  • Try and Ask applicable questions
  • Reengage if you are interrupted

My Secret to Networking

I want to tell you my secret about being an effective networker.  When I meet someone, I get to know them regardless of what they can do for me.  

There is a delicate balance of meeting someone deliberately at a networking event because you want the opportunity for the internship or job.  My advice is to be authentic and compelling by saying something like: “This may not be the right time, but can I follow up with you to discuss the opportunity of working with you?”

Networking As A Way Of Life

You never know who you are going to run into, and then you never know what opportunities they may bring.  So it is important to know what your brand is, what you represent, what you want to do and how you are going to get there.You know how excited you get about things you are passionate about, and sometimes you can talk endlessly about it.  Why wouldn’t you surround yourself with that passion?

My brand is strongly linked to my Twitter profile: CEO of an engineering firm, President of a wine branding company, golf and Harley enthusiast, mom, and a passion to empower women & girls.

So I challenge you to come up with your brand.  And if you have, do you need to revisit it and revise?

One thing to remember: Networking gets easier and better the more you do it. 

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