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A chica’s guide to Networking. The dos and oh girl please don’t – of networking

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When I decided to move to Los Angeles I did so to discover my calling. At the time my business idea was just that an idea but I knew that if my business was to ever get off the ground L.A. was where I needed to be. In order to figure out what L.A. had to offer this chica needed to surround herself with intelligent, powerful, influential, funny (cause I got jokes) and confident women. I NEEDED to surround myself with those whom I aspired to be like.

Weeks before I even made the final decision to move I made it a point to get in contact with different organizations in L.A. and even made several trips up to attend a few networks. I knew I needed to make connections if I wanted L.A. to open its doors for me. I needed to be open, vulnerable, professional, and most importantly, ACTIVE in my pursuit to connect. After all starting a new life was NOT going to be easy.

Since my move I’ve been to tons of networking events and have made some incredible connections. I’ll often get asked “How do you get the guts to go to networking events, and how do you do it ALONE.” Most women say that other women are unfriendly and unwelcoming and they become intimidated by it.

I’ve certainly seen my share of that too. Once, I showed up to a networking event, alone, so I made it a point to walk up to a circle of women. As I’m walking up to them they see me, I see them, and they decide to close the circle they were in and give me their backs. I wasn’t happy about it but it didn’t faze me. I was there for a reason; I had a goal, to meet people that would be willing to work with me. If they didn’t then on to the next I went.

When things like this happen you can’t take it personally. I look at things like these as a blessing, as it’s a sign that those women are certainly NOT the type of women I want to be surrounded by. So its almost like they did me a favor.

This can certainly be the case in some instances but in others we have to look at ourselves and our own actions as to why we are not networking successfully. There’s plenty of dos and plenty of  oh-girl-please-don’t.

Here’s a list to always keep handy…

Networking for Beginners …And Those Who Need To Dust Off Their Skills.

1.    Attire

The Don’t… It’s a network mujer not a club!

Sometimes I’m at a network and I meet a smart, intelligent woman and think to myself GIRL what are you wearing?! I find that some mujeres dress a bit too sexy. Now keep in mind I’m an open minded kind of chica and I don’t judge a book by its cover because life has thought me that people can be VERY wrong about appearances so I make it a point to talk to a variety of women regardless of their attire or vibe.

However, others may not do the same. We MUST at ALL times consider what we’re wearing and where we’re wearing it to, dress appropriately. Especially if you’re attending all female events, someone is bound to hate, or be put off by your appearance and that someone may be a potential business client.

If you’re looking mamalicious because you’re trying to pick up men my suggestion is that a network is NOT for you, in that case, don’t waste your time and go another type of venue instead. If you come for business and happen to meet a good man in the process, cool, but that SHOULD not be your main reason for going.

The Do…

If you want to take your business seriously, but more importantly yourself seriously, show up like the badass business woman that you are. Look clean, sharp and professional. Command attention the right way.

Clueless on what to wear? Head to your nearest Nordstrom or Bloomingdales and just ask a stylist for tips. It doesn’t cost anything to talk to them. Heck you can even go to a Charlotte Russe or Forever 21 if you’re on a budget and find someone there to help style you.

2.       Do the work

The Don’t… This isn’t happy hour, don’t come to hang out your amigas.

At almost every event I notice women bringing a friend, or worse yet a GROUP of friends. It’s always nice to have a wing woman, especially if it’s your first time, but some women make the mistake of bringing friends along and then chilling with them all night. We’re all grown and being in business for ourselves is NO mofo joke! As a grown ass woman you should be able to go places without having someone hold your damn hand!  Women over 30, yes, I’m talking to you.

The Do…

But what if you’re new to the city? Or worse have no friends that will go with ya?

In this case you do what I did. Find the networks you’d like to attend and find the person running/promoting the event and just email her or him. Tell them you’re new in town, or to networking, and that you’re looking for a great networking to attend. If they’re nice (and in most cases they are) they’ll do you the favor and go around and introducing you. They want to make a good impression and would love for you to attend again.

Now if you find yourself with a rude host (rare) or perhaps a busy one then you do the following: 1.Take a deep breath. 2. Remind yourself that you’re a badass. 3. Believe in your business and tell yourself you’re there to kick ass and take names. After you do this (in the car or women’s bathroom) you take yourself right in there with a big smile and work the room. If you see others smiling back go up to them and introduce yourself. You’ll find that you’re not the only one there alone and nervous.

3.      Keep it Strictly Professional

The Don’t… This isn’t a popularity contest, You’re not here to make friends you’re here to do BUSINESS.

Best advice I ever gotten about networking came from a coach that told me “From now on you’re not going to network to make friends, you make friends on your own time. You have bills to pay and a daughter to feed no more if I get business great but if I don’t at least it’s always nice to meet nice people, you’re here for business and you’re here to make money.” I completely agree with her. No more of that nonsense, you need to get your business started, people need to hear about your services, ideas, and how you can help them. After all isn’t that the reason we all go to networks? As women we get caught up in being nice and making friends an often put our business on the back-burner. Hey a new friend is a cool, but a new business prospect/client is PLATINUM  Really being able to help others with your business is the big goal here so no comadriando allowed. You’re there for one thing and that’s to grow your business.

The Do….

A lot of the times when one attends a network you think that you have to talk about YOUR business, but in reality you’re there to learn about the OTHER person’s business and how you can help THEM. Make sure you engage people and get them started on telling you what they do, why they’re there, and how you can help them. You may be able to assist them directly with your business, or you may have a connections that can assist them as well. People will not only appreciate this, but keep you in mind as a referral to others. Always, always, and I mean ALWAYS make sure your engaged and be genuinely interested. People can sense that and appreciate it. IF you meet someone you can’t help simply cut the conversation short, be polite about it and then move on. You’re not helping anyone if your wasting their time and yours.

Next time you’re at a network take these kick little tidbits with you. Heck you may have known them already, but just needed a little reminder here and there. Now mujers go out there and lets start making business connections.

 

5 Comments

  • Graciela Tiscareño-Sato on Oct 21, 2013 Reply

    Nice! Networking is EXPENSIVE because it involves my time. Let me add a tip: BEFORE I commit to going to an event, I write on a Post-It note:
    1. who MUST I meet there? (as in the organizer, a speaker, honoree who can move my business forward)
    2. what are my objectives? (collect cards of 3 event planners for speaking engagements, meet 3 business school professors who might adopt my book for curriculum, etc) **Why am I going?**
    3. what do I have to give? referrals, tips, mentoring connections, what

    I stick the post-it note on the back of my badge that’s hanging on me and refer to it every 30 minutes to keep myself on track. Without this planning and goal-oriented mindset, I might as well skip and enjoy those 2-3 hours with my 3 children who love me and want to play Legos. :-) Networking events MUST have specific objectives for me to pursue or I don’t do it…like I said, expensive.

    • Jacqueline on Oct 21, 2013 Reply

      You are so right. It can be expensive and we could be spending that time with our families. So good tip to save mula and time. Thank you for your comment Graciela.

  • Bella Vida Letty on May 07, 2013 Reply

    Great article. I really enjoy your writing style and love how you ended with refocusing on the purpose of networking is to make money.

    • Jacqueline on May 07, 2013 Reply

      Hey Bella, thank you for comment and kind words. Its always important to me to keep ourselves focused and not to forget what the real purpose is. :) Thanks to some of the podcast guest I know that’s key.

      JD

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