Networking Necessities & Nuances

I’m not a networking guru. In fact, when I arrived in the Valley on August 1, 2005, its status as a necessary career skill or valuable ancillary activity was a foreign concept to me at age 31.

For many years, my career networking came naturally through the course of working daily with sports media outlets, news anchors and PR Directors with university athletics and NBA & WNBA basketball teams. I was able to interact with an exciting assortment of local and national beat reporters and radio and television producers in New England, Chicago and Seattle. When I left sports PR to get a new 9-to-5 career, I didn’t truly appreciate that I had been networking with media personnel, community organizations and broadcast partners for nearly 10 years.

Barbara Gibson, ABC of IABC has a great list of Top 10 networking best practices, check them out here.

I have met a lot of great Valley contacts in the PR and marketing fields over the last five years as I have continued my career development. I do often still feel like a stranger in a strange land, but I have developed a strong connection with several dozen people who I work with on boards or interact with on social media or at topical presentation luncheons. Others I just see occasionally at social functions. I keep all of their business cards in one of those folders with plastics pages for cards (I think I need more pages as I have some jammed in on top of each other). This folder stays in my bag or office desk drawer in case I can refer someone to any of my contacts.

I have been to a couple of networking events where I didn’t know anyone or just ran into a couple of acquaintances, and truthfully, I won’t last 45 minutes if it’s crowded or a long distance from home. I’ll chat freely with three to six new people, swap some cards, scan the room and keep moving as I have a restless spirit. I’m never there to sell anything and I don’t just collect cards to fill that folder. I am happy to reciprocate with anyone I have conversed with when they offer their card, even when I know there is a slim chance I will have a need to work with them. Perhaps I can share their information with a colleague down the road however, so that’s the secondary value that I chalk it up as when it secures a spot in “the folder”.

Overall I believe in networking when it comes naturally through the course of discussions at events or meetings that cover common interests, similar experiences or industry trends and topics. I have learned to pick my spots and prioritize functions for relevancy so I am being efficient, genuine and productive for my personal interests and career needs.

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