I can’t believe I am only just showing this trench on my blog as it is one of my most worn items right now. I love it. The fit, the fabric, everything. If you’re in the market for a great trench, I can’t recommend it enough. I wore this outfit to a day of meetings and everyone kept telling me how “ladylike” I looked. I’m into that! That’s my MO though these days… lots of neutrals, lots of comfortable fabrics (give me all of the Eileen Fisher), and pieces that can easily mix and match without a lot of thought.
Today though, we are going to chat about networking. I feel like since starting the podcast (especially with bringing on guests) I’ve learned a lot about this. I wanted to call the post “How to Network and not be an Assh0le” but held back, in the interest of being more ladylike. 😉
Gifted Universal Standard Trench (wearing a size 2XS which is the same as a 6; also comes in black) // Eileen Fisher Sweater (it’s organic linen and so cozy!) // Good American Jeans // Talbots Heels (on sale) // Chanel Bag // Sonix Sunglasses (old, love these)
First of all, I despise the word “networking.” The whole thing feels so phony and greedy to me… like, “what can I get from this person!?!” So if you are going into something, thinking “what can I get from this person,” then stop yourself in your tracks right there. Don’t do it. I go into everything I do (personal + professional) with the mindset of trying to make a new friend. If someone seems to have an agenda or want something from me, I’m generally pretty turned off and find myself avoiding them. I’m not out to make “contacts,” I want new friends!
Network on your own terms.
I really hate big groups so I don’t tend to do well with large events. Other people really thrive in large groups, though. For me, the most success I have has been in asking women I admire to coffee/drinks/a workout class.
If a PR rep invites me to an event or party, I’ll often suggest coffee instead, and with fellow bloggers/influencers this has worked well too! I befriended Chinae, for example, by doing this. I sent her a nice note, told her why I admire her and why we we have things in common, and we made a date for salads and a workout. A few months later, she’s been on my podcast and a guest at our live show, I participated in her beauty sale and our friendship has transitioned from on the Internet to IRL. 😉
Don’t ask for anything.
So you’ve made a new friend and you want to collaborate with them. Great! And it’s totally fine to suggest doing something/collaborating, but if you are the one suggesting it, you do NOT ask them for something. For example, I’ll ask them to be on my podcast but I’d never ask to be on theirs.
One of my priorities has been to find other likeminded women who also have podcasts. It’s really nice to have a sounding board for all the technical details, ad stuff, live show negotiations… the whole thing. Most of my girlfriends in this space are bloggers/instagrammers – very few have podcasts, so up until more recently I didn’t have anyone to talk shop with. It was the best thing ever when the Girls Gotta Eat girls came over and after we recorded we talked about work stuff for a while afterward. Or being able to call Chinae to ask her for network advice.
Those are both examples of people who have become real friends and also I guess, a part of my professional network too! But I think of them as friends, first.
But would I ask them to go on their podcast? ABSOLUTELY NOT, NO NEVER. Honestly, I think it’s so important to know that everyone has their own priorities etc., and if they want to involve you, they will do that! I get a lot of emails from people I don’t know, asking to be a guest on my podcast. I guess it’s great to be bold, but a more effective strategy would be to get to try to get to know the person – meet for drinks or coffee, or have a phone call! If it’s a fit, they’ll ask you! Or, ask them if you can feature them in some way.
Know your strengths (and what value you can provide).
When I am networking, making new friends, or whatever you want to call it, I always think about what I can offer to the other person/how I can help them. If you go in with this mindset you’ll almost always be successful.
My strength is that I’m really great at connecting people. I really pride myself on having built a group of very smart, inspiring friends, and love connecting people within my network. The Tipping Point is one of my favorite books (I need to re-read it, actually!) and one of the key takeaways I got from it is that I am definitely a “connector.” Nothing makes me happier than making a new friend and having two or three people that they need to meet. I may not be the smartest or the most innovative person in the room but I will nine times out of ten know who the person should be talking to and happily make the connection.
Respect when someone is busy.
I am drowning with work right now with my blog and the podcast and I’ve more or less put a moratorium on meetings and plans with new friends until after our live shows in June.
It isn’t that I don’t want to, it’s that I’m actually on the brink of going crazy. I am an introvert and STRESS when I have too many plans, especially with new people, and especially with making multiple trips into the city to meet with someone. Nothing is more attractive in a new friend or PR person or whatever than when they offer to come to my neighborhood for coffee or are really understanding and offer to circle back in a couple months. And then we inevitably make the plans and have a great time. I’ve had people get pushy about making a plan or scheduling a meeting and that makes me want to run in the other direction.
Some more random/tactical advice.
- Always read something news-y, something business-y, and something pop-culture-y before an event or meeting so that you have something interesting to say.
- Bring a friend. I am definitely more introverted so I try to bring a more extroverted friend with me when I go to a networking event etc. so that I have someone to talk to; ideally someone less shy than me who will strike up conversation with others! My extroverted friends bring out my more extroverted side.
- Be curious and listen. People love to talk about themselves. This is a good thing to remember especially if you are shy and don’t love talking about yourself (me). I ask a lot of questions about the other person! Someone commented here once that they always lead with “how was your day!?” I have tried that and have had a lot of luck.
- After a networking event, I always write down notes about the people I meet (I’m so forgetful – my memory is a legit sieve right now!) so that I’ll have things to ask them about when I see them next.
- Always follow up! If you meet someone great, get their email/instagram handle, etc. and send a note the next day. And if you’re truly interested, take their info, don’t give them yours – you don’t know if they will reach out! It also helps to have a reason to follow up (i.e. here’s a link to the book I was talking about! here’s that article I referenced! here’s the XX product I was telling you to try!
I think that’s it! Would love to hear YOUR networking advice in the comments!
photography by Carter Fish.