Networking Tips from Kathryn Minshew
Kathryn Minshew is a career expert who has helped millions of people answer the question, “what do you want to do with your life?” She is the founder and CEO of The Muse, a platform to help you discover and flourish in your career.
With her help, you can network like a professional too.
Kathryn starts the video by explaining how important networking is to your career and any advancement you want in your career. She also talks about how scary it can be. She then brings up three frequently asked questions she gets when it comes to networking successfully.
How do I find networking events?
What should I do when I get there?
How do I start a conversation in a way that isn’t awkward?
If these types of networking questions plague you too, don’t worry, Here are some of her best networking tips and tricks that she discusses in the video.
Breaking down networking
Even though we all know how important it is, networking can be nerve-racking. Putting yourself out there, being even semi-vulnerable, and meeting new people is not always at the tops of everyones lists.
Kathryn explains how to break down networking so it becomes less intimidating. Here is her definition:
Networking = meeting interesting people and making connections
If you don’t think about networking as this horribly awkward thing that you have to do, then you get to appreciate meeting other interesting and potentially helpful people.
Watch out for networking opportunities
Networking events are a great place to meet new people and develop connections. Kathryn lists a few places to check into when you are looking for networking events.
She recommends looking to professional associations, industry groups, alumni organizations, and online sites such as Meetup.com.
Create your own event
If you cannot find a networking event that interests you or that you feel you could benefit from, Kathryn recommends that you start your own!
1) Invite three people to have coffee together.
2) Have each person you invite also invite two to three people.
3) Come together once a month to network and make connections.
This could be a great way to get better acquainted with networking while the stakes are relatively low. In a relaxed environment such as this, it may feel easier to approach new people and get used to the feeling.
Have a strong elevator pitch
With all the networking you will be doing at those events it’s important to have a good elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is a 20-30 second pitch about yourself to who ever you are talking with.
This pitch is not only important to making conversation and connections while networking, but a strong pitch could also potentially help you land a new job or other great opportunity.
Kathryn’s advice on putting together a strong pitch is to explain:
Who you are?
What you actually do?
Why do you love it?
Using these key points will help you build a great pitch. If you still need some fine tuning check out this article from The Interview Guys on writing a killer elevator pitch. We also want to acknowledge that this is a slightly different approach from Beth Bridges and her approach to an elevator pitch.
Have conversation starters ready to go
When you get into a big room filled with people it can be very intimidating. Having prepared conversation starters to pull from in a moments notice can really help you out.
Some examples of these could be something as simple as talking about the elephant in the room, the awkwardness. Kathryn’s example conversation starter went something like “Hi I don’t know anyone here, mind if I say hello?”
Being honest about the situation you’re in can be a great way to break the ice.
You can find a list of 250 different conversation starter questions from Conversation Starters World.
Set Goals for the Conversation
Before you start a conversation at an event set some goals you want are looking to accomplish with this potential connection. A great example Kathryn gave is if you are looking to go into a new industry a sample conversation could go:
Person A: Hi how are you?
Person B: I’m great, I am thinking about switching into the _____ field/ industry.
Kathryn stated that somewhere around 97% of the people you speak with will follow up with something like “oh wow that’s great,” but the other 3 percent could have a connection in that field that you could speak with and get more information from.
Remember to discover ways in which you can help them as well. No matter how the conversation went, exchange contact information, so you can at least thank them for their time.
The follow up
Following up with your new contact is very important. Keeping contact is the surest way to form a relationship with this person. Here are some follow up guidelines Kathryn talks about.
- Follow up via email within 24 hours
- Be friendly and tie up any loose ends
- If appropriate you can connect on LinkedIn or twitter
Hopefully these tips and tricks will help you succeed in networking and grow your career. I have included the actual video below to watch at your convenience.
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