Networking serves such an important role in our business because it’s all about relationship building. Whether you are connecting with potential clients, mentors and business besties, or partners networking is a great way to meet new people and expand your business. But it can be daunting. Especially if you are introverted, don’t love big social events, or just feel awkward saying hi to new folks.
This week on the SMRT Women podcast we sit down with Patti Balsillie, a tourism, strategy, and engagement specialist. Patti has lived in the Yukon for over 30 years. She is the past Chair of the Arctic Inspiration Prize and currently sits on the boards of Destination Canada, Yukonstruct Society and Chief Isaac Companies. She is also a rock star networker so we brought her on to talk about how to networking well and how you can make it your friend - or at least your frenemy.
Check it all out below.
There are so many ways to network - pick one that fits your style
Networking can happen in so many different ways. You can go to a traditional mixer event, you can volunteer or serve on a board, you can connect with brands and people you love on social media, you can grab a coffee with someone you haven’t seen a while or want to get to know better- the bottom line is networking is about putting yourself in situations where you will meet new people. So pick a style that suits you best and run with it.
Go with a Goal
There’s nothing worse than heading to a networking event only to skulk in the corner all night, not talk to a single person, and then go home and mope about it. Ok - there’s a lot of things worse than that, but it still doesn’t make you feel good. Go with a goal in mind, a mission that you want to accomplish and you are much more likely to reach out of your bubble. Your mission may be to talk to three new people, learn something new, ask a question to some key people who you think will be at the event or even - dare i say it - have fun.
Bring a Buddy
Buddy system rules. Just make sure you don’t end up talking to each other all night instead of reaching out to new people. Use the fact that there is two of you to get brave and approach people. Try introducing each other so you don’t have to feel like you are self-promoting. Know each other’s goals and go for it.
Have an intro and an exit strategy
It’s totally ok to go with a few canned questions you want to try out on people - whether it’s talking about the latest community news, asking people their story, or discussing something that happened at the conference or event you are attending - go with a few questions in mind.
That being said, its very easy to get stuck in a convo that’s no clicking or going anywhere. Don’t be afraid to cut your losses and move on. Have a canned exit strategy (I’m hungry, need to go to the washroom, see someone I know…) and get outta there.
Know how you can serve and what you are looking for
Relationships are built on exchange. Go ready to share your story and tell people how you are excited to serve, share advice or info that you have online in groups if it’s helpful, and don’t be afraid to ask questions and let people know what you need - people are happy to tell you how they can help.