Networking can be as uncomfortable as it sounds; I know this from personal experience. There are millions of fears that run through one's mind; Will I make a fool of myself? What's the point? How will I even know what to say? The fears are often coupled with the difficulty of trying to schedule coffee meetings or phone calls between two conflicting schedules. Ad Club St. Louis, an organization for St. Louis' advertising students and professionals, helps to remove one step in the tough equation – a meeting time and place. With events such as the Summer Kickoff Happy Hour and Beyond the ADDYs, mingling among industry comrades is simplified. As a rookie to the networking game, I learned a few things during the Summer Kickoff Happy Hour on July 15th about the art of schmoozing. Here are a few tips that you can tuck in your back pocket to better prepare for events such as these.
1. Strike up a conversation with 3-5 strangers.
That's the whole point, right? Reaching out to others opens up opportunities to meet new people, learn about new agencies and/or discover roles you hadn't had exposure to before.
2. Bring a friend in your field.
Ask a friend from another company to attend with you. With less than six degrees of separation, there are better odds of breaking the ice with that one person who could be the difference between 'a job' and 'my ideal job'. Since two other interns accompanied me, Jenny and Nick, I was introduced to some of the people they knew.
3. Have a working knowledge of current industry news.
With the agency world feeling like a small town, knowing the latest industry gossip can give you an upper hand on conversation topics to strike up with strangers. Who won new business? Who made a big agency switch? Is there a new campaign that caught your eye?
4. Don't be afraid – truth is, everyone has those first date jitters, too.
You have nothing to lose. As long as you aren't insulting the CEO of St. Louis' biggest agency or double fisting when you approach the HR Director of your ideal workplace, then you'll probably be okay. In fact, you'll most likely leave happy because you made an effort to be a part of such a valuable community of industry professionals.
The act of networking is often daunting, but Ad Club St. Louis has many resources for young professionals in the advertising field to alleviate the pain of doing so. A bit of bravery and knowledge can go a long way if only you are proactive and take advantage of all of the wonderful connections that St. Louis Ad Club has to offer. Now, all you have left to do is jot these tips down, put ‘em in your back pocket and join Team Quasar at the next Ad Club networking event!