How to Work a Networking Event Like a Lady Boss - Amber Hurdle | Globally Recognized Leadership & Personal Branding Expert

How to Work a Networking Event Like a Lady Boss

April 04, 2016

I admit it. I’m a people addict and I don’t want to quit!

However, no matter if networking comes naturally to you or is some seriously scary stuff, it is important to be intentional about where, why and how you are networking. That way you ultimately end up with a network that is aligned with your values, is well-connected to the people and opportunities you are interested in, and whom can benefit from your expertise and resources.

My girl, Deidre, Darrell, and your's truly

My girl, Deidre, Darrell, and your’s truly

That’s why my friend, Darrell Vesterfelt, and I decided to host a casual meetup. We realized we both know a lot of kicktail local entrepreneurs in the most popular city in the country at the moment, and we just wanted them to know each other, too.

Darrell has helped bloggers and authors establish and grow their platforms for more than ten years, and has worked with some of the largest and smallest blogs on the internet achieve their growth goals. He is now the Director of Business Development for Convertkit, which is a whole new exciting adventure for him.

Of course, I have a combo of local businesses and online businesses in my network going as far back as my Planit Nashville days (my former celebrity event planning company) to my current Bombshell Business network of fempreneurs and awesomely supportive guys who 100% get what we do.

Bombshell, Jenn Patterson of Agility Leadership group, Todd Meador

Bombshell, Jenn Patterson & Me; Me & Todd Meador, Bombshell Deidre DeFelice & Karen Percy

Nashville Entrepreneur Cocktail Hour

So, we thought everyone would want to get their *MUCH NEEDED BY THURSDAY* cocktail on with the coolest and friendliest entrepreneurs (and wantrepreneurs), which is why we kept things less structured and more laid back for our hustle-weary guests. We held it at the swank Le Sel , who by the way, treated us like royalty and had amazing food + cocktails. And while we had a healthy mix of online businesses and brick and mortars, the common thread was that everyone was like-minded, hungry, get-it-done kind of people with swagger. (Of course.) The BEST part is we had several people come that neither of us met before, which was super cool. Seriously, before we knew it we had 45 people registered. Thanks, Eventbrite! (Those pictured in the feature image are the power Thursday night champions who maybe needed another cocktail or two more than our early birds.)

And while I could yammer on and on about how to effectively prepare for and follow up from a networking event, here are some quick, easy to remember dos and don’ts that will work every time.

Not an entrepreneur? These still apply. There are always internal opportunities from meetings to company events that you should prepare for. You certainly want to be able to cross-collaborate, find favor with a possible future hiring manager, get an ear of a senior leader or begin a relationship with a potential mentor or sponsor, which will help your career trajectory.

Dos of Networking

  • Decide what your purpose is prior to the event. Want to meet new people-any people? How about find new opportunities for your business? Or maybe find people to collaborate with? Be clear with yourself so you spend your time wisely. Not even sure what type of people you need in your life at the moment? Maybe reading The Top 3 Groups Your Network Needs will help.
  • Ask your new friend about their business and life first. It will help warm you up to this whole talk to a stranger thing. (And seriously, if there are six degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon, there is like two degrees from anyone in Nashville. We are the smallest big city in the country! In other words, if you are networking in Nashville or a comparable sized city, you likely know many mutual friends and that can insta-connect you to the bestie fast track.
  • Come up with three talk points so if you only get a short amount of time with someone you can spit out what you want people to remember about you. Like if you had five minutes on Oprah, what would you HAVE to say to feel like you maxed out the opportunity?
  • Follow up with people quickly following the event so you don’t find a stack of cards in your desk drawer in three months as a blatant reminder of wasted opportunity! (Ouch!)

Don’ts of Networking

  • (Please) don’t say, “Yeah, man. Let’s network.” Because that’s like what you are currently doing. #awkward
  • Don’t start a conversation by shoving a business card in someone’s face. It’s just bad manners. 🙂
  • Don’t (for the love of Nashville hot chicken and everything else that is holy) put ANYONE on your email list following the event without their permission. That is legit illegal, m-kay?
  • Don’t skip out because of a lame reason, to include not having a friend to go with you (you’re an adult, you can do this), crummy weather (if I can rock an umbrella the DAY of a blowout, you can brave the rain, too), or simply because you are having a long day already. Because when you are sitting there a month from now without any traction in your networking goals, you will have wished you found your big girl panties and sucked it up. (You’re welcome for that velvet machete real talk.)


A Note to Introverts About Networking

Hi, there. I know your idea of an amazing evening is being all by yourself in your home after an exhausting day of interacting with people. That’s you and there is NOTHING wrong with how you recharge your batteries. Here are a few tips, just for you, to help keep you in the networking game as painlessly as possible.

  • Schedule quiet, alone time regularly for the week leading up to the networking event. This will help you store up some dealing with people juice. Likewise, if at all possible, schedule some down time the day after you so can restore the energy that you generously shared with your new friends.
  • Research as much as you can before the event so you can take your time figuring it all out. If the guest list is posted online, check out the social profiles of the guests and see what they are about and learn about the hosts or the sponsoring organization. The more you can absorb prior to the event, the less you will have to process information quickly while also dealing with the people in front of you. *Win!*
  • Use your super power: Introverts are typically GREAT listeners! Not to mention you probably are great at reading body language and understanding what ISN’T being said. You will be able to quickly assess who is worth following up with and who is more of a self-promoter or leach. Lucky you. The bonus is the next time you see someone you will remember something super thoughtful about them, whereas an extrovert focused on chatting more than listening might not catch the same level of depth. So basically you have the potential to really wow your new friends and make them feel super special. Lucky you!

Follow these tips, my introverted friends, and you will be able to build a powerful network without bankrupting your energy reserves. And make no mistake, if you want to make it as an entrepreneur, you simply can’t do it on your own. This is a non-negotiable!

What Is Your Networking Plan?

Alright, it’s time to synchronize calendars! I challenge you to select three networking events to attend in the next 45 days. Come up with a plan for each of them, then follow up, follow up, follow up! Not sure where to find places to network? Lucky for you I wrote a post that may help: 5 Tips to For Finding Great People for Your Network. 

Now, do share! What are your favorite tips and habits you have for networking? You know I always love to see you share your genius in the spirit of helping other readers! xo



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