I’m always trying to brush up my how to network skills and make the most out of in person events. So last week, I hosted a meet and greet at the NARS Atlanta Boutique at the Shops at Buckhead. (A huge thanks to Tanner and his team!) One of my goals this year is to host and have more in person experiences to engage with my followers more in real life. Nothing beats a face to face experience.
PHOTOGRAPHY // Erica Simmons
This meet and greet was a last minute collaboration and I only had a couple of days to promote it on Instagram. Which was fine with me because I wanted something a little more low key and intimate. In my head, I was aiming for 20-30 people which would’ve been awesome, so I was blown away when 100 of you RSVP’d.
Even though I’m an extrovert, networking and meeting new people at events can be awkward for me especially in those moments I don’t know what to say or how to keep the conversation going. But relationship building in person is such a key part of growing in any industry and it’s a priority of mine especially as my business grows.
If you’re trying to figure out how to network at events, especially if being a people person isn’t your default, here are 7 things that help me network at events better as an influencer.
DRESS THE PART
As a lifestyle influencer who started out as a style blogger, I take dressing the part seriously. Influencer events are usually trendy + stylish vs. the suit & tie dress code at corporate networking events, but dress in a way that makes you feel confident. If you’re a casual kinda chick, denim and a nice top with great shoes always works. If you’re over the top, commit to that. Now is not the time to water yourself down to blend in. You want to do the opposite of that.
Dress how you want to be received – some people want everyone to know they’re extra and others want everyone to know they’re chill. There’s no wrong answer here. Whatever your style, keep it authentic while keeping it appropriate.
HAVE A GOAL & SCORE
My dad always said, “Start with the end in mind.” This totally applies to networking as well. So many times we don’t know what to say at a networking event because we don’t even really know what we want to get out of it. It’s fine if you’re looking for a mentor, other influencers to become friendly with or even a photographer to help you shoot content. Make it a specific goal to meet specific types of people to connect and build with. If you know that you want to meet 3 new people from this event, get even more specific about exactly who those 3 people are. The clarity will give you confidence.
PREPARE WITH INTEREST
I try my very best to not be the girl who rambles about herself for 10 whole minutes and loses everyone she meets. We’ve all been around that girl once or twice before and you don’t want to be her. However, it is important to have 2-3 interesting points about yourself prepared to share. You don’t have to share all of them with every single person you meet, but being interesting makes you memorable. And yes, you’re interesting no matter what part of the influencer journey you’re in. Don’t you enter that room without those 2-3 points ready to go when it’s your turn to talk about yourself.
NAME IT LIKE YOU MEAN IT
When you meet people for the first time and introduce yourself – say your first and last name. This is so important. I’ve noticed that in professional networking settings, men tend to introduce themselves with their first and last names and women tend to only use their first. I like to use first and last so you remember exactly who I am. This is especially great if you have a common name. When you introduce yourself, also associate it with something familiar so you increase their chances of remembering you. I recently started introducing myself like, “I’m Mattie James, like Bond…or Harden if you’re into basketball.” This is great if you have an unusual name or if you’re in a loud room and people may have missed what you said.
When someone tells you their name, repeat it back to them to confirm it. It will more than likely stay with you when you say it yourself and prove that you’re actually listening.
CONNECT THE DOTS
And when I say dots, I mean eyes. Look. People. In. The. Eye. When. You. Speak. To. Them. People will literally remember you if that’s all you do because it’s such a rarity nowadays. It shows people that you’re interested in them especially when they’re speaking. But also, connect the conversation. Instead of giving people super vague responses – “That’s great,” “Oh, nice” or “Very cool.” Ask questions that require more than a yes or no response or connect your response to a personal experience. If someone says, “I’m from Los Angeles” you can engage by asking what part or mentioning that you went to undergrad there. Don’t just converse, actually connect.
Pass out your business card (!!!) or at the minimum share your Instagram handle and follow some new people.
KISS FOR 3 MINUTES THEN MOVE ON
Ok, don’t actually kiss anyone. While I’m all about maximizing the opportunity and really connecting with folks, keep it short & simple (that’s the KISS I was actually talking about) and move on after 3 minutes of networking. You have an entire room to work and usually only in an hour or two. This is my biggest opportunity because I love to talk and learn about new people, but it’s about networking efficiently.
FOLLOW UP & THROUGH
In the next 24 to 48 hours, be sure to follow up with those you connected with (especially if you told them you would.) And turn up the charm – feel free to mention an inside joke or insightful word from the event. Even send a link to a podcast or YouTube video if you think it’d be helpful to their blog or business. It’s those little things that make you memorable and start to build the foundation of a solid professional relationship.
As you grow as an influencer, you’ll realize that knowing how to network is super important when you go to mixers, conferences or even in person campaigns. It’s not enough to only know how to navigate behind a screen. Networking well is all about being prepared, intentional and engaging. One of the best compliments I receive is when people are pleased with how easy or great it was to interact with me in person. That’s what it’s all about.
Hopefully, these 7 tips help you network better as an influencer in the future – they’ve certainly helped me immensely.