Netwerking, known to the lay person as “Networking,” is an art. As with all art, your attitude and level of confidence will get you halfway there. That’s why I call it Netwerking and not Networking — a little more Gen Y and a little less middle aged men at a press luncheon. Generation Y, Millennials, The Me Me Me Generation, whatever you want to call us (I’m looking at you Time Magazine), with everything we do, have a fresh approach to connecting with people. Technology has made it infinitely easier to talk to people all over the world and to hold onto those connections once you’ve carefully forged them. I like to try to embody the perfect combination of Miranda Priestly, Peggy Olson and Oprah when I’m on the prowl for some new connections. I’m also usually sitting behind the loving glow of my laptop researching the heck out of people I need to know while blasting Iggy Azalea or Beyonce. Power up. Shut it down, girl. Or boy. But as Joel Stein said in that Time article, we may be entitled, lazy narcissists, but one day, we’ll save the world or something. So let’s get to it.
1. Research, research, research. You have no excuse not to know more about this person than they know about themselves. Dive 50 pages deep into their blog, read every article they’ve written and every interview they’ve done, know the history of their company. Beyond just their lives, read up on the lastest news in their field. If it’s someone you’re trying to interview, don’t ask them the same 5 questions everyone asks – they probably have a rehearsed answer and you’ll get nothing new out of them. You’re going to need more than your good looks to get their attention, especially if they have a lot of people asking things of them. Just don’t be creepy about how much you know.
2. Timing is everything. Sometimes an email or phone call that attempts to reach out just falls into the void and is never seen again. It’s nobody’s fault, just the result of constantly being plugged in and bombarded with information. You need to be reading their website, scouring their blog, following them on twitter, and doing anything else that will give you a better idea of when is best to approach them. Tweeting at them once you see that they’re active on Twitter is always a good strategy.
3. Business cards are a worthy investment. But, wait? What about all that talk of technology and modern times? What’s paper? As progressive as we can be in our digital ways, having a business card or two with you at all times is just smart.There’s plenty we can learn from generations past. It’s also super professional, and it will make whoever you’re already charming the pants off take you all the more seriously. It also makes you feel fancy and shuts down that creepy guy at the bar because DAMN he just realized how much of a badass biznasty lady you are. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at a party or literally just sanding on the street and had someone approach me who was a possible connection. Whipping out that business card just locked it down. Moo.com is my go-to for business cards — you can make your own custom designs or go with one of their own templates.
4. Don’t let them see you sweat. Or at least try not too. Fake it till you make it and all that good stuff. Nobody has to know that you don’t 100% know what you’re doing, because who even does anyway? A good first impression goes a long way. Wear something that makes you feel confident or meet with them in a place that makes you feel comfortable. And if something goes wrong, put on your big girl or big boy pants, and don’t panic. If they’re the one freaking out, you have to serve as the voice of reason in the situation. Show ’em how it’s done.