Let’s be real: networking is hard work. It can often feel awkward, stilted, and forced — but it’s something we all have to master, especially if we want to land our dream jobs.
Windsor Hanger Western, Annie Wang, and Stephanie Kaplan Lewis met as Harvard undergraduates while running a student publication for Harvard women. In 2009, the trio launched Her Campus Media, which has grown to be the number one media and marketing company for college women.
Their ability to network — and network well — has been critical to their success launching and growing the platform.
Her Campus co-founder, publisher, and president Windsor Hanger Western shared her top tips for networking efficiently while being true to yourself and your professional goals with Bumble, below.
by Windsor Hanger Western
Don’t be shy about making the first move. If you’re at an event and you come across someone you admire, don’t be afraid to go up to them and say so! A networking event — especially a conference like Her Conference — is the perfect chance to learn more about someone’s role, and to do some fact-finding.
Do your research. While enthusiasm and passion can get you far, knowing what you’re talking about always leaves a lasting impression. If you know there’s someone doing work that excites you, make sure to prep for that conversation. Have they been featured in a trade publication or interviewed recently? Did their company just make a big announcement or launch a campaign? Being on top of industry news will always make for better conversation!
Know yourself (but don’t go all-in on your elevator pitch). Networking events aren’t about kicking in a door and yelling about your project or pitch — but it’s likely, if you’re approaching other people with excitement and passion about their work, that they will ask about yours. So you should have a working, simple description of your project, your business or your personal brand so that you can share what you’re about without getting too nervous.
Be authentic. The most successful networkers are the kind of people who deliver a professional but unmistakably authentic version of themselves. Be warm and open, and give your conversation partners your undivided attention and enthusiasm!
Always follow up. Never underestimate the power of sending a thoughtful email to the people you’ve been networking with. After an evening of great conversation, asking someone for their contact information or if they’d like to connect via email or LinkedIn is a great way to make sure you can keep in touch. Shooting over a friendly note mentioning your conversation shows a commitment to developing a professional relationship with someone and definitely makes you memorable.
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