What I Learned From My First Networking Event
I just attended my first networking event as a “blogger”. I’m kind of ashamed to say it aloud but it took me 13 months to get from behind my computer, logo, and avatar. The funny thing is I’m an extrovert. I love meeting new people for my job in Human Resources. I’m used to introducing myself to strangers and saying “I’m Zena the HR Generalist”. However this was new and different. Last week was the first time I introduced myself as Zena, founder of Her Savvy Career. While it was strange and a little uncomfortable, I left the event with a few lessons.
I was terribly nervous about introducing myself to other professional women. Luckily, the first person I saw just happened to follow me to the bathroom and introduced herself from the other stall. I got off easy. The ice was broken before I even walked into the room because I already knew the girl I met in the bathroom. I’m thankful for “bathroom girl” because she jumped into the networking pool with two feet and that immediately put me at ease. I learned that sometimes you have to be that bold person who starts the conversation. Most people are nervous at these events but when you dive in with both feet and break the ice, you make a lasting impression.
I didn’t prepare before I walked into the event. I knew the location. I even brought diapers for charity as the host requested. However, I failed to have a purpose. I didn’t know if I was going into the event as an HR professional, a blogger, or what. I knew I was attending the event because I wanted to meet other professional women in DC but that was it. Did I want to promote my blog? Was I looking to extend my network? I had no clue. Now I know that before I attend any event, I should have a clear purpose and goals. When you go into an event with a plan you are able to measure if you met your goals. Before your next event, write down what you would like to learn, who you would like to meet, or how you would like to contribute.
This networking event was different. The host encouraged each woman to share what they needed help with and for others to help where they could. The intention behind the event led to my last lesson of the evening. Lead with how you can help. Meeting new people is not about what you can get from others but more about what you can give. My brand is about supporting women. Not just from behind a computer, but in anyway I can. After leaving this event I decided that moving forward, at any event that I attend, I will approach it with how can I help others.
By the end of the night I was so proud that I’d come from behind the blog and shared Her Savvy Career in person.
What’s your elevator speech when marketing your blog at networking events? How do answer the question “what do you do?”