FROM THE TRENCHES: 5 Tips for Meaningful Networking

5 TIPS FOR MEANINGFUL NETWORKING
by Bianca Reyes
If you’ve been to a NYWICI event you know how many amazing women attend them- and there’s never enough time to connect with them all! Here are some tips for maximizing networking events to create meaningful connections. 
1. Go
Connections won’t come to you. You have to go make them. Find an event and go. If you were invited to an event, you should definitely go. If you’re too busy to go, be sure to express interest in future events, despite not being able to make it to that particular event. Just because you declined that invite doesn’t mean those potential connections from that opportunity are dead. The act of reaching out to decline the invite alone demonstrates, not only your disappointment for not being able to attend, but also your enthusiasm for the organization and events like the ones they’re hosting.
If you’re looking for events to attend, try searching for “young professionals events” on Eventbrite or find young professionals groups on Meetup. There’s an endless amount of young professionals just like you, waiting to connect with other professionals in their industry. There’s lots of reasons to network, but it shouldn’t be because you’re looking for a job right now. You may be searching for a new job later on and you can reach out to your network for help, but you have to build that network first.
2. Research
Take a look at the guest list, which you could consider a list of potential connections. If you don’t have the guest list, scroll through social media and search the organization’s designated hashtag for that event. Chances are if people are talking about it on social media, they’re probably also going or are interested in going. Once you have your list of potential connections, you can further research each person on LinkedIn. A few keys things to focus on, so you don’t fall down a rabbit hole of cyberstalking. Note the professional’s title, company, and industry. Focus on those three basic components, as well as if you have anything in common. LinkedIn is pretty good about making it obvious that you and another person may have worked at the same company or went to the same college. This research is especially crucial for someone looking for a new job at a specific company because you can make an impression that could increase your chances of getting hired. This will set you apart from that stack of resumes.
 3. Leave an impression
Business cards are key! If you have to take a few minutes to write down your name, phone number, and what you do… you’re wasting time already. Depending on your purpose for connecting, you will either want to hand out your work business cards for business development purposes or your own professional business card. This a subtle way of letting someone know that you’re on the market.
 4. Follow up
Keep in touch. Show them you remember them out of all of the other people you met at that event, by casually mentioning an interesting fact that might have come up in conversation. For example, “If you’re ever in the Westchester area, let me know!” Or drop a P.S. before signing off your email: “Let’s catch a spin class at Soulcycle one of these days!”

Not everyone is as active on LinkedIn as you may think. So, reach out via email.
 5. Maintenance
Maintain your relationships with the connections you make. Some may be closer than others. Lunch, quick coffee meetups, maybe even a cocktail after work, etc. These are great ways to keep in touch and making yourself memorable. Quarterly catch up emails will only get you so far.