How to Network Like a Superstar - Part of the Pittsburgh Guest Blogger Event

Today’s post comes from the super talented Emily Levenson of Harvest and Bloom, and is part of a special day of shenanigans from other Pittsburgh Bloggers. You can see my post over on Jelly Jars, where I am sharing the lessons I have learned from my best friend...yes, the one with a wet nose and wagging tail.

When I found out who I was going to be posting for as part of the Pittsburgh Guest Blogger Event, I'll admit to feeling a bit out of my league. I am an avid reader of fashion blogs, I love watching YouTube videos on hair and make-up trends, and would consider myself to be a fashionable lady. But a fashion blogger, I am not.

In talking with Kimberly about the kind of post she was looking for, I was relieved to learn that the topic of networking was one she had been wanting to cover. Because THAT, lovelies, is something I know a lot about.

In addition to being a Mama to a spunky toddler and blogging over on Harvest + Bloom, I am the Co-Pilot of a local Pittsburgh organization that caters to women entrepreneurs. It gives me a lot of opportunities to connect with amazing folks — both in-person and online.

Throughout the years, I've learned a thing or two about networking. Regardless of whether the mere mention of the word networking makes you want to run far, far away, there are a few things you can do to up your networking skills and make killer connections.

1. QUALITY OVER QUANTITY EVERY TIME.

I will never forget being at an event where a woman simply walked around the room, interrupting conversation after conversation, to hand out her business card. The impact of such an act: people talking about how rude she was and promptly tossing her card in the bin. 

It doesn't matter how good your business is, or how lovely of a person you are, there is NO WAY you can make a connection with someone using that approach. Instead, make a point to have a really great conversation with at least one person in the room. Even if that's the ONLY person you talk to in the room. That conversation will be more meaningful and lead to even more meaningful conversations over time. 

The other bonus to this approach: if you have trouble talking to people or are more of an introvert, it's way less intimidating or nerve-wracking than feeling like you have to talk to every single person in the room. 

pic courtesy of Cara Rufenacht

pic courtesy of Cara Rufenacht

2. HAVE A GOAL IN MIND BEFORE YOU GET THERE.

I know, I know. You're going to a networking event to network. That's kind of the whole point. But WHY? Why are you going to that particular event? WHO do you want to connect with? What kind of help or support do you need? What would make you feel like it was a successful (and dare I say it, FUN) evening? 

The more you understand your reasons for going, the more likely you are to actually get your needs met. You'll seek out the right people, stay focused during the inevitable small talk, and be able to ask for what you need. It will also help you feel more relaxed and centered in a room full of strangers. 

photo courtesy of Jenny Karlsson

photo courtesy of Jenny Karlsson

3. POWER POSING IS YOUR FRIEND. 

One of my absolute favorite TEDTalks is by Amy Cuddy on the topic of Body Language. She shares a technique for power posing (i.e. channeling your inner Wonder Woman) that can help you feel more confident and powerful. PERFECT for helping you walk into a room, looking and feeling like the badass that you are. 

The next time you're heading out (or even walking into a meeting at work), stop in the bathroom first and do your best Wonder Woman impression. You'll be amazed at how impactful it can be. 

4. DRESS TO ... BE COMFORTABLE.

Nothing screams miserable like a woman in clothing that makes her uncomfortable. Whether that's shoes that make your feet hurt after standing for an hour, a shirt that you tug on all night because it's creeping up (or down), or a pair of pants that are a little on the snug side.  

It's great to be fashion-forward kind of lady. What's not great is feeling uncomfortable or like you're playing dress up. Find a balance that makes you feel BOTH comfortable and fashionable. Perhaps it's a bold lip color or a funky necklace with a really neutral outfit. Or a fabulous pair of shoes that makes you feel confident and in charge. 

Bonus: wearing something that stands out will help you be more memorable and will also be a great conversation starter. 

photo courtesy of Erika Gidley

photo courtesy of Erika Gidley

5. FOLLOW UP, FOLLOW UP, FOLLOW UP.

I can't tell you the number of times that I connect with people at an event, have a great conversation, and then never hear from someone again. Even though we've talked about being in touch again or I've offered to make a connection on their behalf. Alternately, when someone DOES take the time to follow up it stands out and gives me the warm and fuzzies. 

If you do nothing else, send a little email. If you feel like stepping it up a notch, send a hand written note

Looking for more ideas on networking? Here are a few posts from the Propelle archives: