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Networking is Hard.

And I discovered I’m awful at it.

Oh, right. I’ve been gone for a while. Sorry about that. I got a job in social media (yay!); but it’s part time so I’m also still working as a waitress (not so yay). Needless to say, I’ve been kind of busy. But I’m back.

So anyway, I went to a social media networking event today called Bridging The Gap (#btg12 on Twitter) which was an awesome experience. I learned a lot, and I met some cool people. But not as many as I’d like. But I think today was a good learning experience, and of course, I want you to learn along with me. So, networking advice I took out of today follows.

1. Have business cards
This is probably the most important thing you can bring with you. I got mine yesterday. For $30. They’re not the best quality, but for instant printing at Staples, I’ll take it. Okay, it was 4 hours. But that’s still better than waiting a week for super shiny ones. And they did the trick.

But I’m not in a business, you might say. Get them anyway. You can get networking cards specifically. They have all your information, and its a fast way to give your info to someone else. Pretty key in making connections.

2. Have your elevator pitch ready.

If you haven’t worked in sales or marketing, an elevator pitch is your 30 story you tell to someone about who you are and what you do. Basically what you would tell someone if you only had an elevator ride to talk to them. Personally, I try to avoid all contact with people in elevators, but that’s neither here nor there. If you want to make your rounds and talk to as many people as possible, you want to make sure you know what you wanna say and that it’s short and sweet.

3. Don’t be afraid to start conversations

This is where I struggled today. People have name tags with their names and where they work. Even if you go up to them and say “Oh, you work at such and such? What do you do there?” People loooove to talk about themselves, so if you open with a question, you’ll get the interaction you’re looking for. Don’t be afraid to talk about yourself, either. That’s what you’re there for.

Finally, exchange cards and follow up with the person. Email them, follow them on Twitter, connect with them on linkedin. You never know where you’re next job opportunity might come from.

If anyone has any other networking tips, share them with me in the comments or on Twitter: @marymallard

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