Pardon me, hi there! My name is Taylor and I am the Editor at Independent Fashion Bloggers. Would you mind if I borrowed your attention for just a moment? I'd like to tell you a little about today's post on networking. Oh, you do mind? You're in the middle of doing something else? Well alright, it was nice to see you.
Did you see? See what I did there? I introduced myself politely and asked if you might want to read what I've got to say in this post. I did that because the first and most crucial step when you're about to get your network on is the introduction. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
With IFBcon just around the corner (February 8th), we thought it was an appropriate time for all of us to brush up on our networking and socializing skills. The conference is a beautiful thing in that it brings together bloggers and industry professionals of all walks of life. Famous bloggers? Got em. Up-and-comers? Check. Big brands? You know it. PR agencies? For sure. We try to create an atmosphere that mirrors the community we've built online, where everyone can meet, mingle, make connections and build valuable relationships.
Here are IFB's quick-and-dirty networking tips to help you make the most of IFBcon or any events you might be attending in the coming months:
Know Before You Go
Let's be honest, with all the time we spend on the internet, it's easy to forget you can't introduce yourself to people as your Twitter handle. Or address someone as the name of their blog.
- Do a little prep-work. If you know that certain bloggers, social media personalities, industry professionals, etc are going to be at an event, do a little background research on those you might like to speak with. Find out their job title, what they do, where they're from – any little tid-bits that will help you break into conversation.
- Find out peoples first and last names (as well as pronunciation if it seems a little tricky). Think about when you get an email that's addressed to your blog name, sir or madam or the worst, “Dear Blogger.” The more personal, the better – but no nicknames, obviously.
I find that getting over the lump in your throat when you first approach someone is the hardest part of networking. I'm gregarious by nature and socialize easily, but taking the initiative to talk to someone can paralyze me with fear. However, 99% of the time, people are cool and nice. So just be cool and nice.
- I always err on the side of overly polite. When walking up to a group to introduce myself, I smile and wait for a lull in the conversation. If you know one person in the group, lightly touch them on the arm to indicate you'd like to join.
- When approaching someone on their own, just take a deep breath, walk up and say hello in the most natural way you know how. You can start with a “Pardon me” or “Excuse me, so-and-so? Hi, I'm so-and-so…” and go from there. Or start with their name to get their attention. For example “So-and-so? Hi, I'm…”
- When connecting two people, give context that explains either how you know Person X and Person Y, or tell them a little about each other. For example, “Meghan, I'd like you to meet Jessie, she writes Style & Pepper and is a fabulous stylist. Jessie, Meghan writes Wit & Whimsy and works in PR here in New York – I thought you two would get along famously!”
Talking Points & Asking Questions
One thing that will stunt your awesome networking experience is breaking the ice then looking around and twiddling your thumbs awkwardly. An effective “networker” (made up word) brings something interesting to the table or has some interesting questions in their back pocket.
- Flattery will get you far in this world. Lead with a compliment – a sincere one, at that.
- Consider why you want to know or meet this person. Tell them! This can be a mix of explaining what you like about them or their business, and also explaining a bit about yourself. But keep it as short as you can.
- Do you admire their blog? Do you want to know more about their company? Are you curious where they got their shoes? Ask, but don't pry. People will tell you what they want to tell you, and everyone is inclined to a secret or two, especially when it comes to a good deal on designer shoes.
By now you've had a lovely, witty and informative conversation with your new acquaintance. It's time to wrap things up in an elegant fashion and continue socializing with other new and exciting people.
- As you say your goodbyes, don't forget to say what a pleasure it was to meet Person X.
- If you have a business card, now is the time to put it to use. Don't force it on Person X, though. You can say something like, “It was so lovely talking to you, Person X. If you'd ever like to talk further or go for coffee, here's my contact information.” They will say thank you, and you'll say, “Of course. Enjoy the rest of your day,” smile and continue on your way.
- When the conversation is drawing to a close, you should be able to gauge how well it went and if your new acquaintance would like to keep in touch. They may offer their email or phone number, or, in true 2012-style, their Twitter handle! You can do the same, whether or not you have a business card. It's a helpful tool but definitely not essential.
Okay. Now you're ready. Smile, stand up straight, stride with confidence and be your charming self.
Do you have any great networking tips to share with the community? You know the drill… Leave a comment! Oh, and don't forget you can get tickets to IFBcon here!