GUEST POST: "The Art of Networking" Luncheon Recep
Edmond Young Professionals is presented by:
Earlier this month, David O. Woods, author of "The Art of Networking: Beyond the Handshake" and current CEO of Magellan Executive Partners, spoke to Edmond Young Professionals at their educational luncheon. David’s experience serving as CEO of three different companies and on leadership roles in various associations and groups made him an expert in the art of networking and relationship building. He believes in order to leverage networking as a personal competitive advantage, one should treat it as a skill that is practiced and developed over time.
At the start of the luncheon, David provided insight into what all successful people have in common: large, open networks in which they are the connector between people in different clusters. He then led into how one must realize that at its core, networking is simply about making friends. It is a common mistake to go to events with the intention of making a sale or deal. A successful network will rarely have an immediate result, but instead a long-term payoff from the relationships and friendships you have made.
Laying the groundwork is the first step to David’s networking guide to success. If possible, obtain a list of attendees to an event that you will be attending and study that list. He suggests you choose four to six guests you want to meet or re-connect with. This manageable goal allows time for a meaningful and memorable conversation with each person, rather than a quick introduction.
The next topic discussed was how to appropriately dress and physically prepare for an event. Most networking events are at the end of a long work day, so David stressed the importance of a "refresh" prior to the event. It is important to wash your face or shower, brush your teeth, and dress appropriately with attention to detail. His tip was to dress for the level you wish to be at; dress in the same business attire as your boss.
Now onto the main event – the actual reception, luncheon, or conference! David believes your nametag should be high on your chest and to your right. Also, he suggests holding your drink in your left hand while your right hand stays warm in your pocket, so you are always prepared for an introductory handshake. Smiling and looking generally pleasant is the biggest magnet for others to start talking to you. A tailored and personalized conversation, in which your goal is to learn and be interested in what your new contact has to say, is the key to a memorable interaction. Below are some other suggested tactics to navigating an event:
- Find a non-aggressive way to capture your targets attention, like buying them a drink.
- The delicate breakaway is one in which you make it about the other person. For example, “I have been hogging you all night, I’m going to let you go meet someone else now.”
- Learn how to work a table of eight by starting the conversation with the guest directly across from you, rather than focusing solely on the two people next to you.
- Do not underestimate the introverted loner in the corner who isn't talking to someone. This could be the most fruitful relationship and their most memorable interaction of the night.
Finally, the best kept secret of networking is the importance of the follow up. Connecting with your new contact after an event will put you above the rest and show you care. Whether you have the opportunity to buy your new contact a gift while on a trip, send a framed picture taken at the event, a personalized written letter, or simply connect them with another person in your extended network, a thoughtful gift should help them in some way.
The goal of a networking event is not to hang out with your coworkers, enjoy free food and drinks, nor sit around in a corner waiting for the event to be over; but rather to find, create, and cultivate life long relationships by planning ahead, looking the part, behaving appropriately, and purposefully following up.
Haley Schulman is the Group Sales Manager at 21c Museum Hotel, Oklahoma City. Originally from Westport, CT, she earned her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a focus in Human Resources and International Business from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Her experience studying abroad in China and the Czech Republic inspired her to pursue a career in hospitality and travel. Haley is new to Oklahoma City, but still considers herself the “human Yelp app.” Ask her for a brunch recommendation and she will respond with a list of three places and at least two of their best dishes! When she is not at the hotel or trying out the newest restaurant to the metro area, you can find her walking around Lake Hefner with her 3 year old fur baby, Louise.