If you’re attending an event at which you don’t know many people, arrive early. Unlike being fashionably late to a social function, arriving early at a networking event makes it easier to become part of the party instead of feeling like you’ve arrived at a party that has started without you.
For people nervous about networking, showing up to a networking event may be the biggest hurdle of all. I hope that by preparing for that inevitable question, “What do you do?” you feel more con dent and less anxious. If not, spend more time practicing and rehearsing your short and long responses. Practice your dialogue with an iPhone, voice recording app, video recorder, or a friend.
The moment has arrived. You are attending a networking event or will be in a situation where you know networking will occur.
These are highly simplified examples, but they do emphasize several key points. First, in my experience, 99 percent of networking situations begin with ”What do you do?” You will be ready to answer effectively if you’ve prepared and practiced a short response that includes a hook and you have a well thought out long response. Is your hook eliciting the follow-up question or comment you intend? If not, consider changing it. It’s impossible to predict with certainty how people will respond, but being prepared will enable you to modify your answers as necessary.
Second, because you are prepared for the opening part of the networking conversation, the rest will probably flow smoothly. The result: better outcomes in relationship building. There is a lot more to establishing and maintaining a professional network than an introductory conversation. Of course, your responses will change as your career develops. Your responses also may vary with your goals for a particular networking situation.
Third, professional networking is not about a transaction (get- ting a job, making a sale, acquiring a client, investor, etc.). Instead, it is about building a mutually beneficial relationship in which the mutual bene t accrues over time. e examples here focus only on one side of the conversation. Your preparation and approach to the networking conversation might help guide the person to whom you are speaking if they are less well prepared or less comfortable.
Finally, always enter a networking event or situation with the mindset of what you can do to help someone else. As you are looking for these opportunities, you can help others help you by clearly describing what you do and whom you’d like to meet.
I am not an executive, so why do I care?
“I am not an executive, nor do I want to be an executive, so why do I care about executive presence?” is is a common response from new professionals when discussing executive presence. Or maybe you would say, “I am an entrepreneur. My start-up doesn’t have executives so executive presence doesn’t matter.”
I hear many variations of this same basic theme and my re- sponse is always the same executive presence matters! It matters in every industry, organization, job function, and role. From entry-level to the C-suite, this set of skills accounts for why som people are promoted over others, and why some entrepreneurs are able to raise capital while others struggle to get by.
Not yet convinced? Perhaps you are struggling with the word “executive” in the term, executive presence. If you prefer, use the term “professional presence.” Executive (or professional) presence will play a significant role in your career success.
Executive presence accounts for 26 percent of what it takes to get the next promotion, according to a 2012 study of 4,000 college graduate professionals in large corporations conducted by the Center for Talent and Innovation. That means that at least one-quarter of “what it takes” to be successful in your career is based on something other than your job performance.
DRESS RULES FOR THE WORKPLACE
- If you wear it to the beach, don’t wear it to work.
- If you wear it to the bar on Saturday night, don’t wear it in the of ce.
- Cheap suits are easy to spot. Make an investment in a well- tted suit. A modestly priced suit can be tailored to t well making it appear to be much higher quality.
- If it’s in Vogue or Details, it’s probably not appropriate for the office– unless you work in the fashion industry.
- Be current in style and age appropriate in your choices. Your business dress should be noticed for the right reasons and quickly forgotten.
- Avoid sloppiness, rips, and stains in any type of clothing and shoes.
- Don’t wear a more expensive watch or carry a more expensive handbag than your boss. It sends the wrong message- i.e., “I don’t need this job.”
Generally speaking the term “personal branding” is the practice of positioning yourself as a commercial brand. Like Nike, Coke, Apple, you (as a professional) are also a brand. The definition of personal brand varies by industry and profession.
In a 1997 Fast Company article, “The Brand Called You,” Tom Peters coined the phrase “personal branding” and declared, “Starting today you are a brand. You’re every bit as much a brand as Nike, Coke, Pepsi, or the Body Shop.” Peters, a business management expert, is also the co-author of the best selling book, In Search of Excellence, which many consider to be one of the most important business books ever written.
To begin thinking of your professional self as a brand, ask yourself the following questions: What differentiates me as a professional? What qualities and capabilities do I want my colleagues and clients to associate with me as a professional?
Your personal brand in the workplace is how you de ne your- self as a professional and how you convey that de nition to others. It is the standard you set and maintain for yourself. Equally important, your personal brand is how colleagues and clients see you as a professional. It is important to remember that there may be a gap between how you de ne your personal brand and how others perceive it.
The Go-Giver: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea
by Bob Burg and John David Mann
Why? is is a superbly written parable whose main message is that in business, as in life, it is better to give than to receive. e Go-Giver is both inspirational and aspirational as you build your professional network. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
LinkedIn is a tool for networking, but not a substitute. It allows you to stay informed about what your network is doing and easily contribute leads, information, support, and other information. Don’t confusion social media tools with building a genuine, professional relationship with another person.
There are formal networking groups and informal networking opportunities all around. Most people can identify three to five convenient opportunities without much effort. A networking opportunity isn’t always labeled as such. Informal networking can happen anywhere. Here are a few suggestions for formal and informal networking opportunities:
- Your own company or organization
- Trade and professional organizatoins
- Your alumni association
- Your hobbies or interests
- Local business and civic groups
- Professional networking organizations
- or start your own. . .
Why this resource? Emily Post is synonymous with good manners. Her descendants have continued to publish etiquette books more than 50 years after her death. The Emily Post Institute offers many free resources including articles, blogs, monthly newsletters, and a YouTube channel with a great playlist called Etiquette BitesTM. In addition to these free resources, there are low cost e-learning options for individuals and a bookstore. I recommend The Etiquette Advantage in Business, Third Edition: Personal Skills for Professional Success and Manners in the Digital World: Living Well Online.
About Jeff Chapski
Jeff Chapski has coached and mentored hundreds of college students and recent graduates as they started their first jobs and launched their careers. Recalling the important skills and lessons he learned early in his own career, Jeff started writing a blog at Career-ology.com to help new professionals succeed at work. Read more...
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