Career 09 March 2017
As an entrepreneur, networking is essential to the growth of your personal and professional brand. It is like being your own personal billboard!
It isn’t just about attending events – it’s about establishing and forming relationships and connections with people who can give you valuable feedback and support when needed. It is great for building business contacts, discovering potential clients and customers, making connections with others in your industry and promoting your personal brand.
While it may seem so, networking is also not only about talking about who you are, what you do and what you can offer others. It is about listening to what others have to say to determine the success of your potential relationship.
Here are some tips on how to become a successful networker.
Don’t be afraid to self-promote at networking events
Networking is a great marketing tool. Attending a networking event provides you with a room full of influential people in your industry. By simply talking to these people, you are exposed to potential clients or customers.
For many entrepreneurs, the idea of self-promotion is most often linked to being slimy and self-centred.
However, there is nothing wrong with being confident about your expertise. Start telling your story – the struggles and the successes as people will more likely resonate with your story than your annual turnover and your bestselling product.
Networking isn’t about collecting as many business cards as possible. It is about meeting and building a relationship with people who can offer you valuable information and knowledge.
At a networking event, don’t wait for someone to approach you. You can take control by approaching a group of people as it is often easier to join a conversation than starting one. The more people who are aware of you and your brand, means the more people who will make contact when the need arise.
You can never have too many contacts
So who should you network with? From a business development perspective, it is a good idea to network with potential clients. It is also a good idea to introduce yourself to other experts in your industry as they can offer you valuable advice and information. Don’t forget about those in fields that deal with the same clients you do, they could prove to be great referrers.
Being an entrepreneur can be an isolating and stressful experience, but when networking you learn so much about different businesses, what is currently happening in the business community and you are given the opportunity to share your experiences.
Plus, there is no such thing as having too many contacts.
Dos and Don’ts of networking
While it is one of the most cost-effective marketing tool there are many dos and don’ts that comes with networking. They are:
Have a descriptive elevator statement prepared
Bring business cards but hand out with care
Introduce yourself and start conversations with others
Keep moving around the room; don’t just speak to one person
Attend events with a personal friend
Look around the room when talking to someone
Oversell – people are there to get to know you
Say you will keep in touch but not bother.
How to become a successful networker
Going alone is the key to good networking. By taking someone with you to a networking event, you are more likely to use that time to catch up instead of networking with important people.
Successful networkers don’t let the relationship end at the end of the event. Make sure that relationships extend past the event and you connect with the people you’ve met through their social media like LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.
Networking is one of the easiest and effective ways of increasing profile and acquiring new business and reaching hundreds of potential clients.
5 min read
Except for 16, I have celebrated all of my milestone birthdays in New York City.
I turned 16 in Arnold, Missouri. Arnold is a small town (though not small anymore) 20 miles south of St. Louis. St. Louis is known for the Gateway Arch, a beautiful arch of shiny stainless steel, built by the National Parks Service in 1935 to commemorate Thomas Jefferson's vision of a transcontinental U.S. St. Louis is also known for its custard, a frozen dessert that is so thick, they hand it to you upside down with a spoon inside. Something else about St. Louis you should know is that there is a courthouse just steps from the base of the Gateway Arch where one of the most important cases in history was tried: Dred Scott v. Sanford.
I'm turning 50 during what I define as a miraculous time to be alive.
Mr. Scott was born into enslavement around 1799 and, in 1830, was sold to a military surgeon who traveled back and forth between his military posts in Illinois and Wisconsin, where slavery was prohibited under the Missouri Compromise of 1820. In 1842 the doctor and Mr. Scott both married, and they, all four, returned to St. Louis. Still enslaved, Dred Scott filed a lawsuit against the doctor's wife for his and his wife Harriet's freedom. We don't know exactly why he chose this moment in time to file a lawsuit, however, he did. At the time of filing his, now, famous lawsuit, he was 50 years old. Ultimately, The Scott family did not gain their freedom, but their profound courage in filling this case helped ignite the Civil War and what we would come to know (or think we know) as freedom from enslavement for all human beings. Powerful then and even more powerful now.
My next milestone was turning 21, and I did it in the Big Apple. Having only moved to "the city that never sleeps" a few months prior, I knew nobody except my new friends, the bus-boys from the restaurant I was working at, Patzo's on the Upper West Side. And, yes, pazzo is actually the correct spelling of the Italian word, which translates to "crazy." Trust me we all had several laughs about the misspelling and the definition going hand in hand. I worked a full shift, closing out at around 11 PM, when, my kitchen team came out from the line with a cake singing, "Cumpleaños Feliz." It was fantastic. And the kindness of these almost-strangers was a powerful reminder of connection then as it still is today almost 29 years later.
I design the life I desire and the Universe creates it for me every day. I show up, keep the story moving, and work hard because I am relentlessly devoted to making the world a better place and this is how I choose to leave my legacy.
When I turned 30, I had just finished a European tour with Lucinda Childs dance company. The company had been on tour for months together and were inseparable. We traveled through Paris, Vienna, Lisbon, and Rome. We ate together, we rode on a bus together, we had drinks after shows together, and we even took turns giving company class to get warmed up before a show. It was deeply meaningful and dreamy. We ended the tour back in New York City at BAM, The Brooklyn Academy of Music. It was an incredible way to end the tour, by being on our home court, not to mention I was having an important birthday at the culmination of this already incredible experience.
So, when I invited everyone to join me at Chelsea Pier's Sky Rink to ice skate in late August, I was schooled really quickly that "tour" does not mean you are friends in real life, it means you are tour friends. When the tour ends, so does the relationship. I skated a few laps and then went home. This was a beautiful lesson learned about who your real friends are; it was powerful then as it is today.
Turning 40 was a completely different experience. I was in a serious relationship with my now-husband, Joe. I had just come off of a successful one-woman dance show that I produced, choreographed, and danced in, I had just choreographed a feature film, John Turturro's Romance and Cigarettes, with A-list actors, including Kate Winslet and James Gandolfini, who became a dear friend and had even been on the red carpet with Susan Sarandon at the Venice Film Festival for the movie a year earlier.
And I encourage all women to identify their power and choose to be fully in your power at any age.
This was a very special birthday, and I had, in those 10 years between 30 and 40, come to cultivate very real friendships with some wonderful colleagues. We all celebrated at a local Italian restaurant, Etcetera Etcetera (who is delivering for those of you in NYC — we order weekly to support them during COVID), a staple in the theater district. Joe and I were (and are) regulars and, of course, wanted to celebrate my 40th with our restaurant family and friends. We were upstairs in the private room, and it was really lovely. Many of those in attendance are no longer with us, including Joe's Dad, Bob Ricci, and my dear friend Jim Gandolfini having transitioned to the other side. Currently, that restaurant is holding on by a thread of loving neighbors and regulars like us. Life is precious. Powerful then and today even more so.
I write this article because I'm turning 50, still in New York City. However, I'm turning 50 during what I define as a miraculous time to be alive. And I could not be more filled with hope, love, possibility, and power. This year has included an impeachment hearing, a global pandemic, and global protests that are finally giving a larger platform to the Black Lives Matter movement. Being able to fully embody who I am as a woman, a 50-year-old woman who is living fully in purpose, takes the cake, the rink, and the party.
I'm making movies about conversations around race. I've been happily married for 11 years to the love of my life, Joe Ricci. I'm amplifying and elevating the voices of those who have not previously had a platform for speaking out. I choose who to spend time with and how long! I design the life I desire and the Universe creates it for me every day. I show up, keep the story moving, and work hard because I am relentlessly devoted to making the world a better place and this is how I choose to leave my legacy. Being 50 is one of the most amazing things I ever thought I could experience. And I encourage all women to identify their power and choose to be fully in your power at any age. I'm 50 and powerful. Dred Scott was 50 and powerful. This powerful lesson is for today and tomorrow. We have the power. No matter what age you are, I invite you to use your powerful voice to join me in making the world a better place.