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Networking 101 Recap

Networking is a business essential. And, if you have been out of the workplace focused on family, you may feel like a fish out of water at your first networking event.

Connecticut's Women's Business Development Center, a non-profit focused on leveling the playing field for women in business hosted Networking 101. A vital topic for women pivoting to something new, this was created by women for women primarily those embarking on a new business. The objective was to offer proven tools and strategies to beat social overwhelm and make in-person conversation easy and help you connect like a superstar!  The session covered how to prepare for a networking event, who to talk to and how, as well as what to do afterwards.

About the Speaker:

Ashley Langer is a natural born connector, community builder and networking powerhouse.  In early 2021, Ashley founded Business Socialistas as a go-to resource for elevated networking events, powerful business connections and critical resources that encourage women to expand their support system. Ashley also leverages her experience to coach women on growing their own communities in person and on social media.

Ashley presents with tremendous energy. Before we do the recap, I want to share how to connect with her here.

What we heard...

  1. We need to shift our mindset.

  2. Every stage is important: before, during and after

  3. Follow up is key!

In shifting your mindset, Ashley encouraged us to think of networking along these perspectives:

  • it should be simple and fun

  • make it mutually beneficial.

  • it is for the long-term relationships - not a 1 night stand!)

Before you get there

Strategize on where to seek networking opportunities:

  • Women centric: WBDC, Hey Mama Co.,

  • Entreprenurial Networks

  • Workout classes - same class, same day, every week

  • Schools - places you frequent. Tell them what you do.

Have your elevator pitch and your power outfit ready. You want to feel confident and ready to go.

Once you get to your networking event:

The conversation starter:

Not only what to say to start the conversation but the speaker shared tips on where those starter conversations happen. In the line, when filling out name tags, at the end of the bar you can leverage the tactics of the event to start your conversation. "Should we add our company to the name tag, who are you with?"

Leverage the event itself, "How do you know the host", "Where did you travel from?"

You are unique - what is your story? Your superpower? What makes you special?

Ashley's advice: This is not your elevator pitch but tells us to say the simplest thing: Short one liner: I am a... networker, a chef, a data analyst. Let them ask more, then share your elevator pitch.

NEVER self-reflect or start by drawing attention to yourself in a negative way. "I am so late... I always feel out of place at these things... I hate my outfit..." DON'T DO IT!

How to keep conversation going...

Business cards - always a good segway. Be in control of the business cards so make sure to get theirs. Here is Ashley's trick: have two spots on your person, one for incoming and one for outgoing business cards.

Small talk- it has a purpose. Example: The Weather or The Traffic. But must tie it into your work, the event etc.

"Reflective Listening", which means repeat back what they said with a question to learn more. Not only makes them feel heard, but keeps you focused and the conversation moving.

Conversation Exits

You are there to meet people so once you have chatted with someone a bit, it is fine to transition.

Be honest - "I had a goal to meet 3 folks tonight, do you have a business card I can take with me."

Keep it simple - "I have kept you for too long, I'll Let you go"

Alternative " Let me introduce you to my colleague", or "Have you met anyone interesting? Can you introduce me?"

You are empowered to move on! Don't feel badly.

Post Event

Follow-up is key!

  1. Reach out - be first. Even that night. Comment on the event or your conversation or even something you had in common.

  2. Offer something you can do together. Coffee? Podcast? or keep me in mind when you are going to their next networking event.

  3. Go to their Instagram and like their posts. Acknowledge their thought leadership.

I love Ashley's suggestion to offer to do something together. They are there to develop opportunities to connect with others. Offer to do a podcast together, interview them or vice-a-versa.

In conclusion, it is important to network and feel good about it! Ashley's presentation delivered on the promise of WBDC's programming to offer proven tools and strategies to beat social overwhelm and make in-person conversation and connection like a superstar! 

We are fortunate to have an active organization in Connecticut! We definitely encourage you to register at the federally funded entities that support women's entrepreneurship in your state. The Women's Business Development Centers are part of a National Association.

There are terrific resources accessible online through the West and Central women's business development center. Female entrepreneurship is well supported by the Small Business Association (SBA). Search to find your closest location here.


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