After my great uncle’s funeral, me and my sister took a train to London. Our hair barely brushed and morning makeup fighting to last, we found a spare minute to change. Rushing out the tube station, our hair soaked in the downpour of rain. A pitiful sight attending The Wellness Awards at BAFTA. My chance to meet celebrities like Piers Morgan, reality stars and London bloggers. I felt too scared to network; too insecure to feel worthy.
Wearing a flattering Armani Exchange dress did little to infuse glamour. While I had commuted from a funeral, other guests had left hairdressers, nail salons and makeup bars. Spray tans and designer gowns. The place was a fester of who’s who and don’t you know who I am? One woman spilt red wine on her friend. With a known influencer approaching, the woman let her friend visit the bathroom alone. Red wine splattered.
Miniature circles of groups matched the miniature food. People wanted photos with celebs and bloggers. My outspoken sister managed to create conversation with a health brand owner ,and a photographer who routinely works for Forbes. He handed me his contact details to schedule a shoot. Still scared to network and follow-up, I let his business card disappear.
The power of keeping contacts
From makeup to writing, I’ve had countless opportunities to communicate and put myself in better position. Fiona McIntosh (former editor of UK Elle and Grazia) was once my boss. I put makeup on previous Grazia editor Jane Bunton and television producer Pippa Harris. I’ve assisted successful artists, as well as meeting a host of creative talent. And yet I continued freelancing without nurturing former bonds.
Joel Goldstein wrote for Lifehack, “it is estimated that 60-80% of jobs are found not through online job boards, but through networking.” Goldstein’s first point for millennials, is to remember that it’s a “two-way street”. Think about adding value to others. Growing up in the digital world where texts preceed phone calls, young people are less comfortable to physically put themselves out there.
We can write an email fine and follow on social-media. But face to face, and our online confidence diminishes like a mouse spotting a cat. In society, people naturally down-talk themselves. Women especially, struggle to showcase their talent. Writing down skills and strengths can improve confidence in our ability. I’m reading Erica Wolfe-Murray’s book ‘Simple Tips Smart Ideas’.
Scared to network tips
Soon reviewing on The Style of Laura Jane, Erica (an incredible business expert) recommends writing a list of every client you’ve worked with, and every task you’ve been paid to do. She also advises to note down your passions and dreams. People have to like you in order to build a connection. Your hobbies may become your greatest networking assest.
I believe there’s chance to continually socialise professionally. Not suggesting you bustle round pushing your business card at every greeting. But there are times to mention your career. For example, if I came across a blogger in person, I’d love to exchange experiences and hopefully find a new blogging friend. Likewise, a conversation at a hair salon, may provide input for a new post or even freelance work.
Networking can take many forms. If you’re scared to network, Jenna Goudrea piece on CNBC provides reassuring guidance: “It’s awkward for everyone” and “people love talking about themselves”. Sometimes it’s easier to ask questions than to attempt answers. And importantly, as I have failed before, Goudrea advises a follow-up. Aim for quantity over quality, so you have a couple of fantastic real connections as oppose to many non-beneficial.
Every industry has marketing events you can research and contact to receive an invite. It’s about letting yourself be known. I see networking as a platform for good conversation and hopefully career development. Rather than a chance to only speak to well-known faces and sell myself to those I want to gain from. It is time to push through and move past being scared to network. The benefits outweigh uncomfortable fear.
An article by Wired.com, shares research on women job seekers networking differently to men. Written by Emily Dreyfuss, the piece explains how a study looking at graduates from a prestigious MBA program, noticed that the “women shared an additional characteristic… they also had a tight-knit inner circle of other well-connected women”, along with their social networks. Female groups who can openly discuss how companies treat their gender. Unfortunately, with a lack of women in leadership positions, not every business sees women as equal.
Meeting in person is imperative. Don’t let that discourage your online communication however. Published today in Bustle, is an article on how women are using Instagram to redefine networking. Spending the awkward Christmas to New Year gap planning, my social-media has received a professional update. As my work as a copywriter involves online marketing capability, I add my social handles to my career portfolio.
Images of fitness selfies and random photos amongst green grass nature, are left in 2018. Now it’s poetry, writing quotes, coffee, books and more artistic pictures. I have a theme of white running through each image. It’s a photographic portfolio, with further plans to improve. My writing career launched from my blog. I sent my blog link to countless publications and offered my services for free.
Then came a Twitter email to produce blog posts for a skincare brand. Soon enough, I landed roles writing for brands and I’m finally in my chosen industry. If you’re scared to network in public, build steps to engage online. They say it takes one person to say yes. Prepare for numerous no’s, numerous no responses, and a few yeses to achieve your goals. To get the yes’s, you have to put yourself out there to receive the nos.
How do you feel about networking? Do you prefer making connections digitally, or in person?