Having worked in government affairs the majority of my professional life, and currently working as Director of Government Relations for Atrius Health, my job absolutely depends on the relationships I develop and maintain. Probably the most important thing I’ve perfected is the art of networking and how important it is for the success in your career, no matter whether you are just entering into the marketplace or if you’re more seasoned.
Below are just a few of my tips for successful networking I try to use in my everyday life – like at meetings of Women in Healthcare Management -particularly if you’re attending an event for the very first time, don’t know any of the attendees or if there’s a large gathering.
- If possible, try to find out in advance who will be attending and try to target a few individuals you may want to seek out;
- Arrive on time;
- Mingle as much as possible, sit in the middle of the audience or venue;
- If you go to an event with a friend or co-worker, don’t cling to each other!;
- Bring business cards with you everywhere you go;
- Put down your mobile device!;
- Think about an icebreaker (“how long have you been coming”, “tell me a little bit more about what you do?”);
- Get business cards from anyone you meet (and write notes to remind you of a conversation);
- Smile and make eye contact;
- Don’t hijack the conversation – do more listening than speaking initially, and repeat the person’s name;
- Follow up with an email or personal note (where appropriate);
- Make networking a habit. Seek out opportunities to meet new and interesting people that will enhance you personally or professionally;
- Develop a “thick skin” – If someone you’re talking to seem distracted or uninterested move on to the next person;
- Do not “work the room” and try to meet everyone in the room, rather, promise yourself you’ll talk to at least 5 new people (if not more);
- Don’t be afraid to “join” in on a conversation. There’s nothing wrong with joining a conversation at a natural break. In most cases, people will automatically introduce themselves and include you in the conversation. If a conversation looks to be a serious one, you can discreetly walk away;
- Be yourself and have fun!
Blog post by WHCM Steering Committee Member Kathy Keough