I recently did a Google search for “women’s networking events” and an alarming number of articles popped up discussing the reasons that networking groups fail, but more specifically women’s only groups. Before I could even begin brainstorming different types of events to host, I was bombarded with reasons why they would never amount to anything more than a bunch of women standing around sharing business cards over cocktails.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love mingling with a glass of bubbly (preferably pink) and I attend countless networking and social events regularly. There is always at least one conversation that leaves me feeling reenergized and ready to take on the world. And yet each time I come home, I add my pocket full of business cards to the growing stack on my desk and move on to the next thing.
It turns out that showing up is not enough anymore.
Debating on whether it’s socially acceptable to wear yoga pants while passing out business cards is only half the battle. And even though this can be the more challenging side of the that battle, creating purpose and quality out of each of your engagements is the other half that will keep you moving forward.
Identify your goal
What are you hoping to achieve? What do you need help with in the short term and long term? What challenges are you currently facing? Networking events are great for practicing your elevator pitch, but what would you say to someone who heard your 30 second speech and then asked, “Sounds great, how can I help?”
Identify your strengths
It is important to recognize that even while you may need help in one area, you are also able to provide a strong value in other areas. How can you help your fellow peers? What skill can you teach? What advice can you offer? We show up to networking events in hopes to find someone that can help us, but if we’re all attending with a need, who is providing the solution? Remember, sharing is caring.
Identify your actions
Once you leave, make a list of 3 action items that you want to accomplish by the next event. Were you able to meet your goal or create a connection that can point you in the right direction? Set reminders for yourself once a week to check in on your goal and the action items that you created. Are there follow up emails or friendly reminders that you can send out? Is there someone you can meet for coffee or call for an informational interview?
Your time is valuable, so make sure you’re using it wisely. Don’t just show up to your next event, power up…even if it is in those yoga pants.