Advice from the Experts: Leveling Up Your Networking Game

May 27, 2024  | 

This blog post contains the transcription of a free virtual Lunch & Learn we hosted in May 2024 titled, “Leveling Up Your Networking Game.” You can view all of our upcoming webinars here.

Top Networking Tips for Entrepreneurs

Who are the Top Experts to Know?

Albert Mui is a Financial Advisor with Edward Jones. Whether you’re planning for retirement, saving for college for children or grandchildren, or just trying to protect the financial future of the ones you care for the most, you can work with Albert to develop specific strategies to help you achieve your goals.

Claudia Thompson is the Director of Field Operations for the Northeast of BNI US CORE. She previously served as the Managing Director of BNI New York. Claudia is also the Head of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Panel for BNI US. She has over 20 years of sales, marketing, and managerial experience. Claudia loves serving others and giving back to the community. She currently is the Chair of November Project and former Board Chair of the Boston Women’s Fund. She is also a Founding Director for the Boston Business Women Conference, a women’s networking organization now with over 42,000 members. In her spare time, Claudia loves spending time with her son Michael, traveling, reading, trivia, and enjoying all types of Vegan cuisine. She also loves staying active by dancing, practicing hot yoga, running marathons, and hiking trails!

Jeff DeSocio is an accomplished Information Technology & Marketing Executive with over 25 years of technology experience, from startups to Fortune 500 companies. Jeff is also an entrepreneur, avid connector, marketer, and founder of one of Greater Boston’s most successful professional networking organizations, Mass Professional Networking. He recently pivoted his career in 2022 to become a successful Managing Director of Technology at an executive search firm, integrating his vast technology management, organizational knowledge, and networking to help hyper growth organizations connect with talented professionals. Jeffrey is also the owner of AIMC Business Solutions, a leading digital marketing and IT firm.

How Can You Improve Your Networking Skills?

Finding the Right Networking Events

With numerous networking events available, choosing the right one can be daunting. Here’s some advice from our panelists on how to ensure you pick the most beneficial events:

Look at the history and reviews of the event. Paid events often attract more serious attendees. Use platforms like Eventbrite and follow the event organizers on social media to gauge the event’s value.

Consider the group and attendees. Think about where you can add value and help others, as this approach often leads to meaningful connections.

Match the event to your industry and interests. Even if an event doesn’t seem directly related, it can still be valuable to explore different groups.

Maximizing Your Time at Events

Set Clear Goals: Determine what you want to achieve before attending. Whether it’s collecting a certain number of business cards or having meaningful conversations with a few key people, having a goal can guide your actions.

Be Mindful of Quality vs. Quantity: While it’s beneficial to meet many people, forming deeper connections with a few individuals can be more fruitful in the long run.

Follow Up: Effective follow-up is crucial. Send a note or connect on LinkedIn soon after the event to keep the conversation going.

Tips for Introverts

Networking can be challenging for introverts, but these strategies can help:

Pair Up: Attend with a friend or colleague to help ease into conversations.

Set Manageable Goals: Limit the number of people you aim to meet to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Focus on Listening: Introverts often excel at building deeper connections by listening more than talking.

What to Bring

Business Cards: While digital cards are environmentally friendly and convenient, having a physical card can still be useful.

LinkedIn App: Use the QR code feature to connect with others quickly.

Positive Attitude: Bring enthusiasm and an open mind. People are drawn to positive energy.

Follow-Up Etiquette

Following up after a networking event is essential, but here are some dos and don’ts:

Be Prompt: Send a follow-up message soon after the event, expressing your pleasure in meeting them and suggesting a specific time for a follow-up meeting.

Avoid Spamming: Don’t add people to your email list without their permission. Always ask if it’s okay to include them.

Stay Genuine: Be honest and authentic in your interactions. Building trust is key to long-term relationships.

Final Thoughts

Networking is a powerful tool for professional growth, but it requires effort and strategy. Here are the key takeaways from our panelists:

Be open to everyone. Don’t make assumptions based on appearance or initial impressions.

Always be genuine and true to yourself. Trust is built on authenticity.

You never know who someone knows. Approach each interaction with an open mind and a willingness to help others.

Networking can significantly impact your professional success. By following these expert tips and maintaining a genuine, helpful approach, you can build meaningful connections that benefit you and your career.

Resources for Massachusetts Businesses

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