It was the part that I hate the most about networking. When you walk into the room , not knowing anyone, and can tell by the people around you that you’re going to have to make the first move if you’re going to meet anyone. In spite of all appearances to the contrary, I am not an extrovert. I am a complete introvert. That doesn’t mean I can’t be chatty, personable and sociable. It just means that those aren’t the most comfortable modes for me to operate in.
This particular night I was attending a Continuing Ed instructor workshop for the school where I teach elearning and WordPress classes. When you teach night classes, you never get to meet your fellow instructors unless they happen to be in the classroom next to you on the same night. So I grabbed my box lunch, found a place at a table, and did the one thing that almost always works. I turned to the person nearest to me, smiled and said “hello!”
It seems so funny to me that after all of the anxiety and avoidance and worrying I did about networking for so many years, the one thing that always seems to work is a simple smile and a hello. Does it always work? No, there have been times when my hello has been met with a brush off and even completely ignored. But for every one of those there are at many more people who smile and say “hello” back.
So what happened this night that prompted me to write about it in this blog post? Robert smiled back and reminded we that we’d met a few months ago at the first instructor workshop I had attended. I then said hello to Rob, Dave, Al (actually he said hello to me first) and we had a great group discussion about geeky things like elearning and flash and HTML 5. Several of us stayed an hour after the workshop just to chat and I now have some new friends/colleagues that I know I’ll learn a lot from. All because I was brave enough to smile and say “hello”.
So the next time you find yourself alone in a crowd, feeling nervous and wishing you were anywhere but there, think about me and smile. Then say hello to the person next to you and see what happens.
Do you have a tip for breaking the ice at networking events? Share with us in the comments below or on our Facebook page.
Sometimes, making connections with people who have a solid online presence like a blog can be a bit intimidating. It’s not always easy to just walk up and introduce yourself to someone you follow and admire. Here is one great tactic that you can use to connect with that person in a very safe, secure, and low risk way. Comment on their blog.
If you have a blog, you instantly get it. Even if your blog gets a good amount of traffic, it can sometimes feel like you’re pouring your ideas and feelings out into a big black hole of nothingness, day in and day out. When in fact, people are reading and connecting with your ideas. They just aren’t telling YOU about it! When someone you don’t know makes a comment on your writing, it’s like payday. It’s proof that your writing has meaning – even if the commenter doesn’t agree with your ideas.
As a reader, it’s very rare that you don’t have some kind of reaction from reading a blog post. You get to the bottom of the article, you pause for a moment to have a reaction. And then – click! – you’re on to the next article or blog.
That’s the moment when you can take a second to start or strengthen a relationship with the blogger. Many bloggers will comment back to you, but even if they don’t I promise that they’ve read your comment and are taking note.
So what should you write in a comment? Well, write whatever you’re thinking after you read the post. Do you agree with the blogger’s point of view? Did you think of something they missed? Are they way off base and you can explain why? That’s what you should write.
So the next time you read a blog post, pay attention to your reaction. What are you thinking about the post? Click in that comments section and write a little note to the author. DO IT! It’s a surefire way to open up lines of communication and let them know that their words are NOT going into a black hole. That you are reading and appreciating their work. Here’s your homework – stop right now and leave me a comment!
Note: Ironically, the comments on our site broke just when this article was posted! They are up and running now, but if you have any issues, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re going to Training 2013, we’d love to meet you! Come hang with Kelly and Michele from Red Feather Networking at the Laguna Bar on Sunday night. We’ll be there from 6 PM to whenever. Stop over and say hello!
We all know that it can be hard to find good networking events: the kind that leave you feeling truly inspired. Living in a growing city like Raleigh North Carolina gives me the opportunity to attend some amazing events and meet some phenomenal people. This week was no exception. It was Triangle Entrepreneurship Week, a series of events meant to bring together the community, connect entrepreneurs and local investors, to create economic growth. I was only able to attend a few of the events and I left each one feeling inspired.
Today I attended the Women in Business Panel featuring local women who are entrepreneurs or have successful careers in the corporate world. Stephanie Slade-Stone from the Slade Development Group was very candid about her experiences as a women in marketing, including VERY awkward moments at networking events. Braden Rawls of of Vital Plan shared her lesson learned on being clear about what you need in a meeting. I was incredibly impressed with all of the panelists as well as the contributions from the audience. It was reassuring to know that the issues I've dealt with throughout my career are shared by other women as well. So no, it's not just me!
I attended Startup and Play on Monday night. It is a quarterly event conceived by Aaron Gerry and Patrick Shampine. Taking a page from the Silicon Valley and New York entrepreneurial scene, they work to create a ground swell of support for local startups to help them succeed. The third Startup and Play event was last night at the HUB shared workspace in downtown Raleigh with over 300 expected to be in attendance.
It was a great place for networking with beer, pizza, and people everywhere. The exhibiting startups included everything from a local vlogger to printed paper that can control your smartphone. Want to know more about the people who are creating what could possibly be the best social sharing platform since Pinterest, or how brining home duty-free rum from a cruise launched an unexpected business? We want you to know that "Our Network is Your Network", start tapping into it now by joining the Red Feather Networking email list. We’re sharing the most inspiring and interesting people we meet on our networking journey – but it’s only for subscribers. So don’t wait!
Do you struggle to find easy-yet-genuine ways to connect with the people in your network? You’re not alone! Once you find the networking style that works for you, the number of connections you make will grow exponentially. But how can you keep in touch and engaged with that many people? You don’t have to resort to those slimy networking tactics like mass sending “articles of interest” or purposely leaving voicemails to make them “feel” as though you’ve connected.
Here are four easy tips to keep your connections fresh:
1) Comment on their blogs. It’s every bloggers dream to write a post that goes viral and inspires their readers to comment and have a conversation around the topic. Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen very often for personal bloggers or small businesses. If you have bloggers in your network, bookmark their blog and check on it every few weeks. When you read an article you like, make a comment. Bland “I like your post” comments don’t count! You need to make a contribution to the conversation, even if you’re the first and possibly only comment. Your words may inspire other readers to join the conversation.
2) Retweet them occasionally. As you look through your Twitter stream, you probably find yourself clicking to view articles that interest you or laughing at a funny tweet. But how often do you click that Retweet button? Retweeting their tweet to your own followers is the ultimate compliment. And along with suggestion number one above, you could also tweet out their blog post. Just remember to include their Twitter handle so they know you did it.
3) Like their Facebook Page. Seems small, right? Not so. Every Like is gold to someone trying to build a following on Facebook! Even better, click Like on their posts or make a comment every once in awhile. Engaging fans is hard work, and often it takes one person to get the ball rolling. Help them push the ball.
4) Invite them to an event. If you’re headed out to an event, spread the word! You can coordinate a group or simply let them know you’re going depending on how involved you want to get. It could be a networking event, a paint class, or even a movie in the park.
Do you have any other tips to share? I’d love hear more easy connections tips from you in the comments.