A Few Tips For Networking // CommunityMonday, November 14, 2016
Since my week at the GDFS, I have been wanting to write a blog post about some tips and things that might help other people when going to an event that will most likely involve a lot of networking- especially if it's one of their first experiences of doing so. In relation to this then, today I wanted to share 4 tips that I feel are super important to remember when attending an event and networking.
First up, Be Open! I think it's pretty obvious but when you attend an event, if you decide to stand on the sidelines you're not going to get much from it, apart from what you hear other people say and see what they do. So instead, embrace people and be open to the possibilities and opportunities that might arise from such an event and you'll be more likely to enjoy your time and the people that are there.
For me, at GDFS this meant deciding to meet and talk to people that I didn't know- including some industry folk which I thought was pretty terrifying at the time. But in doing this, it opens up your world and connections more which down the line could be pretty important or crucial for jobs or client work.
Next up is Speak up! Like I said before, when you go to these sorts of events, you need to make an effort. If you're having conversations with people, tell them your ideas and views as well. Don't leave all the talking to them- you need to add some input as well. I know for fellow introverts this can be super difficult but it is essential to do in order to get the most from the event you attend. However, there is ways to make a conversation flow better or to have more than just "small talk.
I'd recommend listening to both Episodes 50 and 52 (Birthday edition) of Design Life as they have great tips (specifically Charli for an introverts side) on speaking to people at conferences and events. Including this one gem of input from Femke, in episode 52 (about 12minutes in) "is if I'm, like, not in the mood to talk to other people, and if I'm in a situation where I have too, a trick I do is ask them deep questions that will take them like a minute to answer, so I can just ask them a question and then i don't need to answer for a minute or two."
Carrying on from the last point, this one is Be You! If you ever go to an event and you put on a facade that is totally not who you are or what you believe in, then people will realise this and it will make encounters more awkward. In saying that though, even if you are anxious or uncomfortable, you can use this as a strength, I can guarantee you will not be the only person feeling like that. Also, the more 'you' that you are, then the better people will be able to connect with you and an opportunity may arise from that.
Speaking from my GDFS expierence, I made it pretty clear that I was all about creative community both within my Live Project and with speaking to industry folk, and with my dedication to that and #CBloggers it really shows that I have a commitment and a passion for helping and being part of the industry. From doing that, people do become invested in you for whatever thing it is that is so important to you, which means that you are likely to be the person they come to when they need help with that thing.
And lastly Get Connected! For me the event I was at was a graphic design based on, but whatever event you attend it is likely that it will have a huge online presence- and so that means you need to as well. To do this you can do it in many ways, whether that's by tagging speakers, the event profile and other event-goers in tweets and Instagram posts, using the hashtag so that it is seen by other users or by even doing something like a blog post or YouTube video afterwards. In connecting with the people you attended with through Social Media and also by using the likes of LinkedIn and doing follow up emails, it allows for those initial connections you made to continue and create better relationships with those people.
However, don't think you only need to do this during/after the event, you can also do it before! Personally, I was feeling super anxious to go to GDFS without knowing anyone so I decided to meet Laura from The Floral Elephant beforehand to get a coffee and a quick breakfast and I'm not even joking, it definitely takes off the pressure when you know you don't need to walk into a busy room on your own!
I hope those tips have helped you out, especially if you have an event coming up soon and it's your first ever one! Let me know which of the tips you think is the best and also let me know what you think of the little graphics I made for this post too. It was based of the illustrations I did for my Live Project at GDFS and so I wanted to extend the styling into this as the two are connected quite nicely!