How To Go It Solo at a Networking Event

2 08 2011

I’ve recently been asked to share my advice on how best to approach attending an in-person networking event when you have to go it alone, so I thought I’d just provide access to a PDF of the Nov. 2010 article I wrote for the now (sadly) defunct site: WomenEntrepreneur.com.

I’m also including a link to the article via Box.net. Please feel free to share it with others, and because the site where it first appeared no longer exists, I’m also reprinting a few of the tips I included in it here. Please let me know if you try either of these and how they turn out for you. 🙂

Two additional pieces of advice that I’ve used and have seen help solo attendees again and again:

1. Find the event’s host(s) or any of its sponsors and introduce yourself to them with the same warm smile and handshake as above, and then thank them for hosting and/or sponsoring the event. Remember, these people are hosting the event and they want everyone there to have a good experience — just as you would if you were hosting a party or event. You can then ask about their connection to or role with the group/event and find out what their goals are for the evening. You might be surprised by what you learn, and maybe you’ll discover a few ways you might help them.

If nothing comes to mind immediately, ask for a business card and make a note of their need on the back of it. Let them know you’ll be in touch if you come across whatever it is they need. At that point, explain what made you attend the event and your own goals for attending, and just wait and see what happens next. More often than not, they just might try to help you connect with other folks at the event or will follow up with you via e-mail or phone.

2. Get in line for something, whether it’s food, drink or the bathroom (seriously). Use that time to ask the person of your choice (in front or behind you) if she’s connected to the event or a member, or know anyone who was nominated. Or if it’s someone you know slightly, try one of my all-time favorite openers, which anyone can answer: Find out what they’re working on. For example, “Hi Britney, good to see you. Sandy Jones-Kaminski from Bella Domain (in case she looks like she doesn’t remember you); we met at the spring luncheon. How are things going? (Let them answer.) So what are you working on these days? Anything exciting?”

Sometimes the answer is something fun, like planning a trip to Australia. Or it might even be something you can assist them with by connecting them to a resource. If there aren’t any lines at the event, just look around for another solo person and practice any of the techniques mentioned above. I’ve met some of my favorite contacts that way, and they now make it a practice to do the same thing whenever they attend any type of event.

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Help Me Help You: Tell Me What You WANT To Do Next and WHERE You Want To Do It

22 04 2011

Now that I’ve wrapped up my first 2 weeks in my new role as a full-time employee for FILTER, a digital solutions agency for staffing and creative services in San Francisco (and Seattle, LA, Portland), it’s finally time for me to put this request in writing because, quite frankly, helping people connect with employers in my new job pretty much depends on it. JessicaMillerMerrell.com birds

When I meet you out and about at an event, on a BART train, in line at Specialty’s or at a board meeting, please tell me NOT what you’ve done, but what you really WANT to do next and WHERE you want to do it. Give me a few titles or roles I can remember and a few company names I can latch onto so I can keep an eye out for them when I’m out there doing my thing.

And for those in both Seattle and San Francisco, be sure to tell me where you DO NOT want to work as well. We all have our lists of both, so don’t be coy and act like you’ll take any job because, even as bad as things have been, we all know that unemployment has been a much more desirable option than taking a job at a place with a commute that’ll kill you and/or destroy your relationships, or at a place like “the Death Star” (don’t ask).

If you’re worried that you’re limiting yourself by this, when you go to your next event, or send your next “I’d like to meet for coffee to reconnect” email, be sure to tell that person 2-3 different roles and/or company names so you can plant a variety of seeds in your garden. Help them help you! 🙂





What I Don’t Want to See Again in 2010

20 12 2010

A leave behind list is something I usually start over Thanksgiving weekend. It includes all the things I would like to leave behind at the end of the year so I can start the next one with a clean slate. I’ve included everything on my past lists from bad behaviors (eating after 8 pm), to ineffective financial policies (not requesting payment in advance for certain types of work), to certain types of relationships. Some of my past leave behinds can be found in this blog post from 2008, and a few recent examples include:

-Loyalty to certain rewards programs (So long American Express cards!)

-Engaging in email or status update one-upmanship.

TweetDeck and its tendency to activate the latent ADD in me.

-Trying to befriend people that have no interest in friendship and only want to “leverage” their belief that they “know” me. (“Oh, I know Sandy! We’re even connected on LinkedIn.”)

I’m thinking long and hard about this year’s “What I Don’t Want to See Again in 2010” list, and thanks to what I’ll just call a fairly weird year, I think it is best to keep this one to myself. 😉

Burn your leave behind list in a bonfire this year!When New Year’s Eve rolls around, I’ll take the list and either burn it in a fireplace or bonfire or bury it at the beach. Or, if you don’t have access to anything organic, just flush it down a toilet and say goodbye and good riddance to those things on the list.  It always feels great once it’s gone from view and I highly recommend this exercise as a holiday tradition to start this year.

And, on the flip side, it’s also fun to start a “What I Want To Attract” (or what I’m calling my “What Would Be Heaven in 2011”) list for the New Year, but be sure to keep that one somewhere handy or visible. I either hang it on the refrigerator or keep it as a note in my wallet or on my desktop so it’s always somewhere to remind me of what I want more of in the new year.

Happy Holidays!
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Learning to Love LinkedIn Tip #6

10 06 2010

If you haven’t set up a PUBLIC profile on LinkedIn, it’s time. And since the system generates a random URL for your profile, you definitely want to change it to something more coherent as well as search engine optimized.  For example, mine is http://www.linkedin.com/in/sandyjk Yes, I probably should have used sandyjoneskaminski, but it just looked silly and a tad too long.

To edit the URL of your LinkedIn profile look under Settings and then on the left for Public Profile.  Click there and add your name in the URL box customize it and improve the Google rankings of your profile when people search for your name.

NOTE: Your custom URL needs to contain 5 – 30 alphanumeric characters, and don’t use spaces, symbols, or special characters.

Remember to include your public profile URL in your email signature, on your blog, business card or web site, and anywhere else it might be appropriate. Lots of people even use the LinkedIn URL in lieu of a web site URL when commenting on blogs and elsewhere.

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Pay It Forward Networking – Denver style

12 04 2010

What a great experience I had in Denver last week while co-presenting (along with SMPS board member, Stan Wagner) to the Denver chapter of the SMPS during a 3 hour workshop on the importance networking plays in truly effective business development. We used quite a bit of content from my book, and also incorporated plenty of new information and tactics for this knowledgeable and  sophisticated group.

Our agenda for the event looked like this:

I. Recap of BD Process – 1:00 – 1:15
A.  Sales cycle
B.  Where You Fit In
C.  Reality Check
II. Your Personal Brand –  1:15 – 1:45
A.  Definition
B.  What it is/isn’t
C.  Where do you use it?
III. The Productive Network – 1:45 – 2:30
A.  Network model
B.  What it is/what it isn’t
C.  Etiquette and Best Practices
IV.  Break – 2:30 – 2:45
V.   Building Your Network – 2:30 – 3:45
A. Strategy
B. Techniques
C. Worksheet
VI.  Question and Answer – 3:45 – 4:00

The session was then followed by the first Pay It Forward Networking Party

Have a PIF Party!

in the Mile High City where workshop attendees and other SMPS members connected and networked by learning what each was currently working on and the things they needed help with right now. You can read more about the event HERE, and as soon as we receive our session feedback forms, I’ll hopefully be able to share some great feedback here as well.

I’m looking forward to doing more of these for other SMPS chapters and various other professional associations across the country. Please contact me directly if you’d like to discuss your upcoming event or feel free to share this blog post with others you think might be interested in inviting me to present to their group. You can just click HERE to email me and/or request a copy of my speakers packet.

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7 Savvy Networking Tips for 2010

25 01 2010

7 Savvy Networking Tips for 2010:

1) Don’t take networking too seriously. It can and should be fun. Connect with the intention of helping others rather than simply expecting to find the elusive perfect job or client. Relax, take the pressure off yourself and focus on what you can bring to the party or offer in the form of contacts, knowledge or resources.

2) Improve your outlook and your fortune will change. If you have a negative outlook on networking, you’re probably sabotaging your chances at connecting with the “right” people. Put all the negative or disappointing encounters behind you and focus on “what’s possible.” As Vince Lombardi said, “It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you get back up.”

3) Take a proactive approach and get off the couch or out from behind your screen and get out there! Remember, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” You eventually have to meet people to know if you’ll really connect with them, and the more people you meet, the more likely you are to find the “right” people for you. (It’s almost like dating, isn’t it?)

4) Keep the alcohol consumption to a minimum if you’re at an event where it’s being served. Being relaxed is good, but having your buzz on and then acting inappropriately is not a good way to be memorable at any event. A phrase that comes to mind here is “The more I drink, the cuter you get.” Yikes! Do I really need to say more here?

5) Be the person to include others into the conversation when they join the circle. What a great way to create a good impression and set an example for others. As Dale Carnegie said, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”

6) Be polite and considerate. Good manners never go out of style. Leave your ego in the restroom after you’ve checked your appearance (make sure there are no traces of your lunch in your teeth) and also leave the office politics at the office. A networking event is a time to be non-competitive and social in a professional yet friendly way.

7) Be sincere, open and follow through on your commitments.  Authenticity leaves a lasting impression, and even if you don’t find a way to assist each other immediately, you never know when someone might introduce you to a key new contact down the road.

I cover a lot of this in my book, but wanted to share some of this content here and before I attend a few networking events myself this week. Can’t hurt and might help!

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Adding value is key to networking

5 01 2010

Lots of good advice in this Bankrate.com article titled, “5 Networking Strategies to a New Job” which includes a contribution from yours truly as a result of being interviewed by freelance writer Donna Fuscaldo in Nov 2009. As she summarizes, “While your behavior will differ, depending on where you are networking, all networking events share one commonality — adding value to the relationship.”

I luv that all the folks Donna interviewed for this piece are clearly singing the same song!

Here’s a snipped link in case you want to share the article with others –  http://bit.ly/BRdf0110

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