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Networking like there’s no tomorrow

8th October 2015

In the light of the upcoming Giornata del Traduttore, an event in Pisa I’m speaking at on Saturday, I thought that talking about networking would be only apt. I had the chance to go to a ton of social events over September:

– London Fashion Week
– Barbican, Hamlet
– Louis Vuitton Series 3 exhibition
– Chanel fashion night out
– BMW Series 7 launch

and at every single event, I managed to come away with a contact. Incredible, uh? (must be my cheeky cheek).I’ve started networking approximately at the end of 2011, when I moved back to London after 4 years in green Devon. In Exeter, I did network – I organised a few local pow-wow for translators and that’s where I met friends and colleagues I’m still in touch with now. But then it was when I moved that I realised I needed contacts. Initially, I opted for colleagues – so with the few I already knew, I launched the now 4-year strong London TweetUps, gatherings for linguists who want a cuppa, do some chit-chat and get to know colleagues. Yet, the seriously scary networking is the one conducted with people you don’t know and above all, outside your comfort zone and industry.

It may seem obvious, but once again, planning is key.

My tips to start are basic but efficient – I think! –

  • Start researching events in your area – there’s always something happening, even if you think it’s not. Of course, the level and calibre of events may vary but hey, you gotta start from something.
  • Identify a category – vernissage, art gallery do, party, conference, book signing, networking event, trade shows, dinner… every single event has its own flair and as such, different audiences and targets.
  • Study the crowd – I tried the first time and spoke to nobody. Not a single soul. I just hung around, watching them.
  • Prepare a pitch – not necessarily a thoroughlly acted one, we all know a spontaneous approach wins in the end. Yet, know your stuff, your brand voice, your products, yourself! Try this with a friend and make sure you always have an answer at the ready and make it concincing. Instead, you can try and think of a hook to start conversation with someone – I know, you’re tempted about the weather and why not, it may work in the UK.
  • Dress the part – is it a recurring event? Check online for dress code or photos from the event. Depending on the time of the day, you cannot go all gowny and heavy makeup. Yet, never understimate the power of a blazer and a simple shirt. You can always dress it up and down based on how the situation turns out to be.
  • Be self-aware and confident (or bring a +1) – be aware of the crowds, of what they do. Assess whether they are willing to mingle or if they’re in a big airtight group and are not showing signs of a friendly welcome. Yet, try to not look too smug or youìll just have the opposite effect…. people see you as too aggressive. It has happened to me, but I try to mitigate this by being friendly and starting conversation naturally. And if all fails… smile! Or go with someone who can be your sidekick. It’s good, especially if you know each other well. L’unione fa la forza.

What are your tips? Any suggestions?

I’ll post more on the topic after the conference Saturday; I’m sure I’ll gather many more tips and ideas to share here.
–Val

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