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Networking Cheat Sheet: How to build relationships at an event

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We’re friends on Twitter & I can’t wait to meet you in person!

Social media can take credit for bringing more world events to our attention faster than any other previous medium. It connects us. It challenges us and changes us and we love it. But there comes a time when it’s time to move beyond the screen and make the connection, face to face.

Transforming a digital relationship into a real life one is what makes social media so incredibly powerful. You’ve spent months getting to know a person in a black and white medium, relying on emoticons to express feelings. When you finally get to meet that person, the conversation is already mid-stream before you’ve shaken hands or hugged.

But if one of your goals is networking for business, there’s some prep work involved. If you’re preparing for WIBN’s second annual conference – S.M.a.R.T. – read through our conference readiness tips. If we’re missing a few, please tack them on at the end.

Update your profile pic

Your avatar or profile pic is your new calling card. If the one you’re using cost you a lot of money to get you at just the right angle so that the rolls and wrinkles were neatly hidden, get real. There’s a difference between a great shot and one that makes you look 10 years younger and 20 pounds lighter. How will anyone recognize you if you look more like your niece than yourself?

Need a new mug shot? Slip into a blouse you absolutely love, brush on some make up and get outside with your smart phone. Then, ask someone shoot you from an angle slightly higher than you are. Sit in the partial shade (being mindful about shadows on your face). If you’re concerned about your weight, looking back over your shoulder – it stretches the neck and gives your face and torso a nice “S” shape.

Smile. This is a recognizable you.

Being recognizable at a networking event is paramount to success. My husband shot my profile pic on our deck in our backyard. I thought it was a pretty flattering shot until someone told me I look younger in person.

I honestly don’t know whether I’m happy about that or not…

Dress for who you want to be

We can’t all be Kimberley Seldon, though many of us aspire to. She’s relaxed in a crowd and moves from gracefully from conversation to conversation with ease. She’s worked hard to get there but I’m guessing her first networking events took a fair amount of planning – starting with WHAT AM I GOING TO WEAR?

Relax, it’s not as complicated as you think.

Let your clothes tell your story for you. Are you a creative and free-spirited designer who adores color? Maybe you’re project manager who feels most at ease in a suit. Wear what gives YOU confidence and you’ll spend a lot less time fussing with your outfit and more time meeting people.

Notice this shot of Kathy Buckworth, Julie Cole, Karen Dupuis, Chris Farias and myself, Julia Rosien. We had just stepped off stage at Tweetstock 007 and couldn’t be wearing more diverse outfits. But each one of us wore what made us *feel* confident.

Check your ego (and shyness) at the door

Seriously. There’s no room at networking events for the elevator pitch that’s all about ME or the wallflower who wants people to come to her. You’re here to meet people so get out there and meet them – really meet them – because they’re here to meet you too. 

For over-achievers. Put your pitch aside and get to know people. Ask them about them. People love to talk about themselves and you’ll be more memorable if you focus on their story. Trust me your turn will come.

For wall-flowers. First take a deep breath. Then put your phone away (it’s a crutch and will prevent you from meeting people). Now go get a drink – coffee, tea or wine. Holding onto something will give you strength and having something to sip will help you relax and keep your throat from closing up. Trust me, this works.

Are you ready to meet and great people that you might already know from social media but have never met in real life? If you’ve signed up for WIBN’s 4th annual conference you’ve already taken the most important step. Now go forth and NETWORK!

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