In 2016, I read Keith Ferrazzi's book Never Eat Alone, and it changed my perspective on networking and creating professional connections. I read it right before going to our field's annual conference that year, and it was probably one of the best books I had and have ever read in networking. Before heading to the conference, I made the commitment that I would "Never Eat Alone," and I would find new people to network with. Fast forward two years later, and I am still using the strategies in this book to connect with more people in our field.
Three of the takeaways from this book are the following:
1) Never Eat Alone
Find someone to eat breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner with when you are at conferences, even if you just met them. This is a great way to connect, and if there is awkwardness, eating can take away some of those pauses! Ferrazzi also recommends this for the typical work day. Instead of eating lunch at your desk, grab a bite with a colleague or coworker to continue the connection.
2) Follow Up is Important
At a lot of conferences or work events, people often hand out business cards and promptly lose them, or put them somewhere, and never reconnect with those people. Set up a system where you can input contact information electronically, and every few months "ping" them to reconnect and find out where they are and what they are doing. It is important to reconnect as well right after the conference, to keep the conversation going!
3) Don't Be Afraid
Be brave! Connect with someone that you admire but have never met before. At conferences, we can do this in person (most of the time the person is not going to ignore you, but probably shake your hand and say hello), or on social media. The worst thing that can happen on social media or through email is they never respond, and then you are just where you started anyway! Sometimes being brave and reaching out can lead to a great collaboration, project, or learning.
What are strategies you use to network? Comment below!