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.