It's no surprise that effective networking is one of the most critical aspects of a successful career. You may dread awkward networking events, but there's no denying that they are an important source of building your professional network. It all finally clicked for me after watching the Season 5 premiere of HBO's Game of Thrones on Sunday evening. Nerdy? Yes. Insightful? We'll see..
The first step towards effective networking at an event is being able to introduce yourself in an engaging and informative, yet concise manner. Unfortunately, we don't have the luxury of formal introductions as seen in Game of Thrones (even though I've often dreamed of introducing myself as "Daniel of House Cross, First of His Name, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, and Protector of the Realm"). That being said, we can learn a lot from this type of introduction. By describing who you are, where you're from, and why you're there, it will be easier for others to remember you later.
On that note, don't be afraid to return to conversations with those whom you've already met throughout the night. It's refreshing to see a familiar face (unless they are coming back as a White Walker, of course) and a re-introduction can be an ideal time to move forward with a previous conversation or recall a detail of their introduction and expand on it. These deeper conversations, when compared to the traditional sharing of elevator pitches and a brief discussion about the weather, will help establish a meaningful and lasting professional relationship.
Once you've established these relationships, be sure to follow-up with the individuals you've connected with no more than two or three days after the event. If you've made a commitment to share a recent article or blog post you mentioned, do it. Remember, "A Lannister always pays his debts." Not only will this continue to build on the budding professional relationship, it will also open up the sharing of more information or even career opportunities.
Lastly, whatever you do, don't ever attend a networking event called "the Red Wedding."
Have you ever picked up networking tips from an unconventional source, like your favorite television series?
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