Many of us are seeking meaningful connections in this giant, overpopulated city. Networking can be tough. It’s hard to know the best communities to place yourself, let alone how to feel presentable and confident. Since building my Beyond Mom Community, networking is a huge component of my weekly work. Along the way, I have learned a few important things.
Figure Out Who Your Community Is
If you are a blogger in fashion, attend fashion events. If you are as basket weaver, hit the annual basket weaving conference. Figure out the communities where you can connect with your tribe and go meet them. For myself, I’m targeting the mommy community of NYC, so I attend events geared toward moms, families, and kids. But I also touch wellness and entrepreneurship, so I throw some of that in, too. You will learn so much by simply being in the midst of those who speak your language and touch your specific world, so join them and soak it in.
Once in a While, Change Up Your Community
Now and then, I’ll get invited to a random event—maybe it’s in real estate, maybe it’s on behalf of a certain nonprofit that a friend supports. I cannot say “Yes” to everything, but sometimes, I will show up. Why? Because I’m always surprised by the unexpected connections I make. Without fail, I’ll meet someone who changes my thinking or knows someone I’d love to meet. Be open to attending more random events when it comes to your networking strategy.
Do Your Research
A major reason why we feel nervous attending an event that feels “network-y” is because we might not have enough information to really float a conversation.
Before I attend an event, I always do my research on the organization, the leaders of that organization, and any important facts I should know. I write down hashtags and handles so I can easily Tweet or Instagram when I’m there. This way I never walk in feeling unprepared or uninformed.
Have Your Personal Promotional Material Ready
One of the smartest things I ever did was to have beautiful business cards made. Even before I set out to build my Beyond Mom network, I always had something with which to present myself professionally. You always want to have a business card on quality paper to hand to that quality person you might meet. Again, you will feel more confident with these sorts of tools and you will impress the people you meet.
Have Your Style in Order
You don’t need to have a closet stuffed with clothing, but you do need to have the right items to present yourself to the world. The difference between walking confidently into a room and hovering in the corner could be due to how “put together” you feel. My must-have items: the little black dress (it can be paired with almost any cardigan, scarf, necklace, or shoe), a blazer (it dresses any outfit up), and a beautiful statement necklace (J.Crew has awesome necklaces that are not expensive but spice up any blouse or sweater). What you’re wearing may seem like a shallow subject of conversation, but it can serve as a great ice breaker.
Above All Else, Believe in Yourself
This is clearly the hardest one of all. But when we walk into a room full of strangers and feel like hiding in a corner to scroll our Twitter feed, we must remember that we are unique and that we have something special to share.
Even if we are still exploring our mission, we can express that exploration with confidence versus confusion. Example: “I’m currently exploring an idea around making gorgeous handmade jewelry for stylish NYC Moms. Do you have any insight into that industry?” versus “I love jewelry, but I have no idea what I want to make and who would want to buy it—there are so many jewelry companies out there … and I just don’t know where to start! What do you think?!”
I hope these tidbits help your networking process. They have helped me immensely and have really allowed me to broaden the community I interact with as well as provide insight into the Beyond Mom Community I’m building. Good luck and keep pushing forward with confidence.
Randi Zinn is the founder of Beyond Mom and randizinn.com. She encourages moms to cultivate a life that embraces the gifts of motherhood as well as their skills as businesswomen, thinkers, artists, and entrepreneurs.