For a long time the word "networking" scared me. I thought it meant showing up to conferences and shaking hands with strangers. Here's what I did to get past the scary word and out in the world making new connections.
As the founder of a digital dating consultancy, I know that relationship development really begins when you meet offline. To create meaningful connections, you need to put the phone down. Face-to-face is the new FaceTime. But even for me, saying hello at a networking event isn't always easy.
You took the plunge and made the big move to Des Moines - congratulations! Even if you don't know anyone here yet, it doesn't mean you can't jump into the networking pool and start building strategic relationships.
We're resisting the urge to toss famous Vegas song titles into this paragraph. You know they're going through all our heads: "Hey Baby, Let's Go to Vegas," "That's What You Get for Waking Up in Vegas," "Vi-va, Las Vegas."
During Summer 2011, I started my first internship at Google HQ in Mountain View, California. Many thoughts raced through my mind as my start date neared. It was the first time in my life that I would live outside of Texas and would have a job that didn't require me to sell sneakers.
Done right, networking can be the silver bullet for building your profile, gaining new business opportunities and building your career. But what happens when you show up to an event and just can't find ways to engage with others?
It's very rare you'll walk into a room full of women who are there just to hand out business cards. In my experience, the majority of women network to build relationships they can use both personally and professionally. They get that business networking isn't about business, it's about life.
Networking is a great way to build your business. In fact, it's pretty much a requirement for small and medium business owners these days. And yet, so many cringe at the thought, finding it stressful, frustrating and in the end, not very helpful.
Starting and ending conversations at networking is without a doubt where most of that unavoidable networking awkwardness occurs. But it doesn't have to be that way. There's nothing wrong in going into an event with some intro and outro ideas up your sleeve.
This means your appearance, your body language, and the way you carry yourself are identifiers of what you are about. Think of it like being the front cover of a book; the content could be extraordinary, but if it doesn't scream "pick me up!" only a select few actually will.
In your 20s, you're a step above the naivety of your teen years but a step below the complexity of the rest of your life. It's at this stage in our lives we have a realistic future ideal, but we may not have the final blueprint down.
When you are solely focused on building a career, everything else can seem inconsequential. Building new relationships, while maintaining existing ones, is an important part of your business success. How do your social skills measure up?
The secret to getting new clients from networking events? Use "networking" to build real relationships -- and your new friends and colleagues will want to do business with you and send business your way.
The fact that I continuously meet remarkable new people on this life's journey is one of the biggest surprises of my adult experience -- and the very thing I tell young adults when asked about life's great surprises. Really? Incredible people just keep showing up? Yup.
I enter every conversation and interaction believing that it only takes one "yes" to propel me forward. Of course, you must realize that no one can help you obtain your goals if you fail to share your goals with others.
Take two college graduates with similar levels of education and merit. The college graduate who grew up in a network of racial and economic privilege has an automatic advantage over the graduate who didn't.