I wrote Part 1 of my “Tips to Successful Networking” series on October 3, 2013, and the post became very popular overnight. I shared in Part 1 two tips: (1) Make it a habit to meet new people and not hang out with friends at networking events (2) Start with the top – the president, vice-president, executive committee, and organizing team. Here is Part 2 of the series.
3. Become an expert networker by becoming an executive committee member
There are many benefits to becoming an executive committee member. First, you get to become involved and gain more knowledge about an organization you are passionate about. Second, you won’t have to work as hard finding people to network with – interested people will *come to you* because you are perceived as knowledgeable in that organization. Third, as an executive committee member, you easily have a topic starter: “So what do you (the participant) think about the event we organized? How can we improve it to better serve your needs?”
Becoming an executive member sometimes takes one outside his or her comfort zone, but trust me, once you get comfortable with your new position, it’s well worth it. Watch your network grow exponentially.
Example: Calvin served as the Chair of the Young CA Forum, and as executive committee member from 2011-2013
Having a formal position in an organization really helped me build a strong network. Being the Chair, at Young CA Forum events I would give the introduction to speakers, and thank them at the end and present gifts to speakers and door prizes to participants. The publicity that came with the Chair position drew a lot of people to me. Most people come find me after an event and say, “Great event! When is the next event?” That would get the conversation going, and voila! I’ve got a new contact in my network.
4. Network with everyone – regardless of background or culture
I believe everyone has the capacity to teach me something, regardless of their background, culture, education level, or job. The key here is: You never know who knows who. The person you meet may be the receptionist, but this same receptionist may be able to persuade/influence someone with influence or power. Wherever I go, I network with everyone, whether it be at a formal networking event or taking care of a task at an office. I often ask for a person’s name, make a note, and next time I see that person again I would say the person’s name. Usually people are very impressed by someone who remembers their name. I network with everyone from CEO’s and presidents all the way to receptionists and janitors in my apartment. Everyone gets a smile, and it makes their day because most people treat people whom they consider of “lesser importance” as invisible. I treat everyone – regardless of background, upbringing, culture, job title – with respect.
Here at Schulich, I’ve picked team members to work with numerous times and I deliberately work with people of different backgrounds. When I participated in the National University of Singapore case competition in September 2013, I worked with two brilliant guys from India. In different group projects, I’ve worked with people from Asia, Middle East, South Africa, and so on. I find it is fascinating to learn about the culture that my teammates are from. It has opened my eyes a lot, and I really enjoyed it.
Stay tuned for Part 3, which I will discuss:
5. Finding topics to say
6. Do your friend a favour: introducing a friend to other people at networking events
7. Go ahead! Say “Hello” and initiate handshake!
8. Maintaining your network