Networking: the word sends shivers down many a spines. Who wants to go to some hotel conference room dressed in a suit that’s two sizes too small and strike up conversations with complete strangers? Well, here’s some good news: If that’s your perception of networking, your perception is stuck in the past.
The explosion of online networking opportunities means you can leave those awkward cocktail parties in your rearview mirror. Even in-person networking events have evolved from obligatory, tension-filled evenings to exciting meetups that connect like-minded people through fun activities and once-in-a lifetime experiences. So, how can you make the most of e-commerce networking opportunities? Let’s find out!
Do some Googling and you’ll likely find plenty of great events in your area, follow event organizers on social media to plan what events you are interested in participating in. Check for "Call for Papers" notifications, and share what you have been working on with your community.
Organizations like Meet Magento and Mage Titans strive to help e-commerce wizards connect locally and internationally, hosting events all over the world. Events are a great place to set up appointments, reconnect and exchange information and business cards. You can meet people you follow on social media and take the chance to have a stronger presence in your community. Meeting new people is a great way to grow your business in a variety of ways.
In 2019, you don’t have to endure the networking process face-to-face. If you can’t stand the feeling of approaching someone you don’t know, reaching out to them online removes the need to put them on the spot and allows rejection to happen more gracefully. LinkedIn is the perfect place to meet professionals with backgrounds and interests that are similar to yours.
Once you’ve connected with someone and established a mutual interest in working together or assisting each other with career prospects, it’s best to meet in person sooner rather than later. This enables the two of you to get to know each other better and to see how well your styles and philosophies might match in a business environment.
If you don’t feel up to a one-on-one meeting, group networking events are great places to make plans with individuals. Local networking groups or professional organizations often organize events like movie nights, group baseball outings, or trivia nights for those looking to broaden their professional networks. These are great places to make unexpected connections with other people, too!
When you spend time volunteering, you can meet great people and do some good for the world while you’re at it. If you’re passionate about clean energy, spend some time canvassing for your favorite environmental cause. If you’re trying to launch the next great product in veterinary health, lend a hand at the local animal shelter. You may or may not meet people with the exact same interests or educational background you have, you’ll be able to bounce ideas around with folks who may one day be your customers.
Do’s and Dont’s
- DON’T be afraid to ask for help! Too many would-be networkers end up more like potted plants in the corner of the room because they’re afraid to speak up. Yes, asking someone for a favor might make you feel like a craven opportunist, but there’s really no reason to feel that way. Those higher up on the career ladder than you understand that asking for favors is a necessary -- if anxiety-inducing -- part of the climb. Just remember your manners at all times, and don’t dispose of the friendship after the favor you’ve asked for is granted. That’s all the more reason to keep the connection healthy and strong!
- If you attend an event where you’ll meet lots of people, DO make a list of icebreakers/conversation topics ahead of time. This doesn’t have to be a physical list -- referring to a piece of paper you’ve pulled out of your pocket in mid-conversation would be pretty cringeworthy -- but brainstorming ahead of time will save you from quite a few silence-filled encounters. Approach people with purpose and put in real effort to have a quality conversation -- don’t leave it all up to them.
- DON’T forget to say “thank you” to anyone and everyone who gives you the time of day -- even it’s just a one-minute conversation. People have any number of things they could be doing at any given time, but they’re spending their time speaking with you -- that’s a really cool thing! You never know what the smallest interactions might lead to, so be grateful and make sure you listen closely!
- DO help others whenever you have the chance! Although you may feel like you’re low on the totem pole, there’s always someone younger and greener who could benefit from your experience and wisdom. Providing help to others also absolves you of any guilt you may have for asking others for favors by allowing you to pay those favors forward!
- Do decide what you would like to achieve by going to an event and follow that mindset, but don't forget to have fun. If you attend an event with a purpose in mind and are authentic, the people you meet will recognize this and value it. These are valuable connections that can help your business grow.
Wagento, knows how important networking is, and we are proud to host Magento and eCommerce events internationally and on a regular basis. We love connecting with the community and helping it grow. Don't forget to check our twitter for updates on the latest events!