When I first moved to Switzerland, it was like starting kindergarten all over again and instead of burgers and Mac-N-Cheese, the cafeteria serves sausage and Schnitzel. I didn’t know anyone (except my husband) and learning German isn’t exactly a walk in the park. Meeting new people starts out, ‘Mein Name ist Dale. Ich komme aus Kalifornien, uhhh… Sprechen Sie Englisch? Ya!…Ok, whew! Can we please switch to that?’ Most people I meet speak 3+ languages; super hard ones too. Thankfully, the networking part came a little easier after years of practice in San Francisco and blogging which is the fastest way to find others that love the same interests as you.
Today, I want to share my top 5 tips for networking, with the assistance of my friend and first intern, Lily, who emailed me last Spring interested in a fashion internship. After meeting over coffee at the Nordstrom Cafe, she was a perfect fit. Not only did she do an amazing job handling marketing, social media and Bay Area events for Savvy Spice; she’s pursuing her dreams in fashion and was just accepted to Cal Poly Pomona. We snapped a few pics together last month in San Francisco meeting before she heads to So-Cal this summer. Here are my Top 5 Tips for Networking at any age and learning how to connect with others not only for meaningful professional relationships, but true friendships…
1. Can I Add You on LinkedIn? ~ You know LinkedIn is important for recruiters, your professional reputation, making connections and networking, but it’s more. Spend a few hours updating it, attaching samples of your work, and create a summary. Stay active, especially if you’re looking for a new job, add new people, follow influencers and READ the articles. There’s a new LinkedIn series called ‘If I Were 22‘ by successful CEO’s with their best advice that truly applies for all industries and ages. Lily isn’t even 21 yet and just starting her journey, but we can all learn from these including What I Learned in Fashion Works for Any Career by Rachel Zoe, Don’t Get Married too Soon and Make Your Boss Look Good by Guy Kawasaki, and Never Think You are Smarter by Ken Burger.
2. Don’t Be a Stranger ~ Remembering a stranger’s name the first time you meet them is difficult, but so important. When you first meet someone, repeat their name, try to make a mental connection or picture in your mind and then use their name again before walking away. My friend based in San Francisco, Chester, who first invited me to networking events in the Bay Area understands this better than anyone! He is literally The International Man of Memory and is one of the greatest memory experts in the world. He travels internationally coaching CEO’s, speaking at top universities and giving corporate seminars how to improve memory and use it for networking.
3. Headshots and Headaches!? ~ You’ve heard it before, but you only have a few moments to make that first impression. While a professional photo in business attire is a good idea for a headshot, don’t forget to always carry business cards. You don’t need a title, you just need your calling card and if you have a blog relevant to your career, make sure to add that URL. (SIDENOTE) I’ve had the best luck with MOO over VistaPrint for high-quality business cards. And if you’re thinking about starting a blog, my friend Adrienne who founded Rich Life on a Budget in Sonoma, just wrote one of the best posts I’ve seen – especially for new bloggers – called ‘How to Be A Happy Blogger.’
4. When Does Assertive Get Annoying? ~ That’s a tricky question. We’ve all encountered close talkers and over-eager sales reps, but when it comes to reaching out with an email, how do we know when it’s too much? This Huffington Post article offers 12 Tips to Email Writing. I’m learning every day too, but don’t be afraid to introduce yourself via email. Keep it short, simple, polite and the worst that can happen is you never get a reply. Always follow up a few days later using the same thread just in case they missed it, and if there is still no answer, then give it a rest for the time being.
5. It’s A 2-Way Street ~ When I first started meeting tech and startup founders in the Bay Area, I’d often hear things like, ‘Well, my business partner went to Stanford and handles that,’ and ‘My sister went to Harvard and is doing my PR now from NYC’ or ‘Our Kickstarter just launched and we already raised $200K in 3 days.‘ It can quickly make you feel like a lonely country bumpkin with nothing to offer. But just work harder and as you start going to local events, business groups, and dedicating time on your own projects, your network will grow. Help others whenever you can if you have a great connection, make an email intro. Suddenly, the city you’re living in can become much smaller as your network grows and Karma (in a good way) might come back to you.
<DETAILS> San Francisco, CA – dress – H&M / necklace – Zara (both recent)
Special thanks to lovely Lily for all her hard work over the past year and she’s already wise beyond her years in terms of networking which can be even trickier, and catty, at fashion events. To follow her next chapter in style adventures, you can find her on instagram @LAScrip.
Do you have any career advice you wish you could give your 22-year-old self?
Special Event this weekend in Zurich: The Women’s Expo Zurich with over 150 vendors is this Sunday. Free Tix still available HERE. Thanks for reading and if you’d like weekly posts via email, Subscribe HERE.