By Casey Briody on February 24, 2015
Last Friday we were honored to welcome Kim Riley, President of Hylant Nashville, to a standing room only crowd for the first Williamson County Chamber of Commerce First Friday of 2015.
Kim’s topic “Network Your Way Into Success” had the crowd of 100+ eagerly taking notes for reference for their next networking event. Kim shared tips from how to own the room when you walk in, down to the type of shoes you wear. Riley’s own personal struggle to network while just starting out allowed many in the crowd to relate, and realize networking is all about being prepared. Most importantly, you must know exactly what you want to achieve from each networking event. Kim’s advice her networking techniques into three different categories: Networking 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0.
First and foremost, if you want to increase your network, you must be willing to put yourself out there and attend networking events. Before attending a networking event, it is necessary that you have your 30-second elevator speech perfected. Your speech can be personal or business minded, which one you choose all depends on what you want the person to know about you.
Once you are able to get through the door it is all about working the room. When working a room, I introduce myself and move quickly, Kim says. While networking, it is imperative that you stand out and leave a lasting impression on the people you meet. A statement piece can do just that; for Kim, it’s her vibrant shoes. A statement piece can range from fun shoes, to a colorful necklace for women, where men can incorporate a bright colored shirt or bow tie. Whatever you choose as your statement piece, make sure it sets you apart from the rest. Along with your lasting impression is your business card. Always have your business cards accessible, and keep a pen handy to take notes on the back.
Your most important moment is entering the room. I enter a room, stop and look at every single person and work the room left to right, says Kim. Next, make sure you know your audience. Whether it’s world news or SEC football, you must know the hot topics and be able to hold a conversation with the people you meet. One helpful strategy is to get ahold of the list of guests attending the event and set personal goals. How many people do you want to talk to? Who do you want to talk to?
Taking the time to plan and organize your approach beforehand will make networking more enjoyable. Planning beforehand can and should include getting the attendee list, researching each attendee prior to the event, and linking with each attendee in hopes to meet before/after the event. Kim’s advice for targeting your approach is to think beyond networking with one person. “When you are networking with one person, you are networking with everyone they know, so who do you want to make sure you meet?” You also want to make sure you are attending industry specific events in order to link with valuable professionals.
Networking is not just about going to events, additionally it is very important to use the power of social media as much as possible. Connecting with professionals via LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook is a valuable resource, and should be utilized daily. When it comes to LinkedIn, you should be a connector and an introducer. Kim’s advice is to encourage people to view your connections and provide introductions for people in your network. A great tool for Twitter is Hootsuite. Hootsuite allows you to schedule tweets ahead of time, and even separate followers into specific lists to stay organized. Forming lists allows you to keep your contacts in order and ultimately be a more successful professional.
When all is said and done, you must remember these key tools to be successful at networking:
- Practice makes perfect
- Set yourself apart
- Plan and organize your networking
- Target who you want to meet and how
- Build a social media brand
- Be memorable
- Build your brand, but be patient; Rome was not built in one day
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