High-Level Networking 101: How to Spark a Conversation that can Lead to Long Term Impact

Everyone knows that high-level networking is a critical part of building a successful business, project, or brand.

Decision-makers at all levels want to feel confident in the person they are hiring or bringing on board for their projects, and in many cases, all it takes is one chance meeting to seal the deal.

It is also common knowledge that high-level networking is awkward. That uncomfortable feeling of scanning a room and deciding who to walk up to, what to say, and how to present yourself.

High-Level Networking is a true art form, that requires both practice, and trial and error in order to find your own secret sauce.

I attend lots of events, so I am always on the giving and receiving end of that first greeting.

Here are some high-level networking tips that can help you break the ice, keep a good conversation flowing, and ensure a rapid follow up -@lizgrossman87 Click To Tweet



Dress your best, be unique and spark confidence:

Simply put, when you look good, you feel good, and when you feel good, your confidence shines through.

Need I say more? I also recommend wearing something unique that grabs the attention of others.

In my case, I typically wear one of my custom made African pieces because it’s both flattering, and also always acts as a conversation starter allowing me to share a bit about myself right off the bat.

You may have an article of clothing or accessory that always gets complimented, wear that and it will almost always serve as an icebreaker.

Do your homework

Make sure you find out as much about the event as you can before going. Who is organizing it, who is attending and what opportunities are you looking for?

Prepare different pitches you can potentially deliver to attendees, bring the appropriate materials (brochures, pens, business cards, etc), and focus on your goals.

Knowing what you want to say and showing up prepared will increase your confidence, showcase your level of seriousness and leave little room for frivolity.

Be natural, not transactional and pushy

People like to joke, smile, converse and mingle without feeling pressure, and the most impactful connections start like that. 

You want people to be attracted to your personality, and not feel hounded by business right from the get-go. The key is to place an emphasis on relationship building.

Earlier this year at a crowded event, I ended up sitting next to a lovely woman, sharing a few laughs over coffee while the event carried on.

Later, I learned that she is a very high ranking official at the UN, but our relationship had already been solidified in a friendly, convivial tone. When you get to the event, go get yourself a drink or a snack, relax.

Don’t focalize on the VIPs. 

Please, you do not want to be the first one to bumrush the speakers after they immediately after they finish their presentation- they will not remember you.

I have watched attendees wait fifteen-thirty minutes for their chance to simply say hello or offer their praises to my clients, wasting an opportunity to make more meaningful connections in the room. 

Networking Tip: Meet the people sitting next to you, because those are usually the ones who will be on the stage at the next event – @lizgrossman87 Click To Tweet

If you would like to introduce yourself to one of the heavy hitters, patiently wait your turn. Know what you want to say, find a reason to follow up, and find the best method to get in touch.

Have an appropriate business card etiquette.

Effective networking is not about collecting or distributing a million cards, so the first thing you do should never be to hand out or ask for a business card.

After you have established a connection and potential for collaboration, that is a good time to hand them your card. If they do not have one, but you wish to follow up, ask them for their email address or phone number on the spot.

If that does not happen, connect immediately following the event on social media with a follow-up message.

Follow up within 24 hours

Most people forget that networking does not stop at the event, it requires diligent and thoughtful follow up.  Jot down notes during the event about the people you have met, and write them the next day to recap your conversation and propose a next action point.

This could be as simple as staying in touch, suggesting a meeting, or a direct ask about something which was discussed.

Since people are busy and attend many functions, it needs to be done within 24 hours to ensure they remember you and your conversation. 

Finally…

Always remember to stay calm and cool. Chances are slim that you will land your dream job or sign a big investment deal at a high-level networking event, but they are great places to plant the seeds that can grow into your next opportunity. 

Always remember your value, make friends, and have some fun. It may turn out that people start lining up to hand you their business cards!


Missed our Facebook Live on August 22nd on how to drive social change through your business/ Career? Click here to watch.

Chidindu Mmadu-Okoli: Storytelling can Change your Business

Chidindu Mmadu-Okoli is a healthcare provider, content creator, and editor. She is the founder and chief storyteller of Story4Strategy. Story4Strategy is a small business borne out of the passion to help individuals and small businesses create the most compelling brand narratives that connect them with their target clients or ideal audiences.

How did Story4Strategy originate?

Story4Strategy did not come to me by chance. I was inspired by my various experiences from the 13 years where I worked as a secretary, writer, editor, PR officer, and as an inbound healthcare marketing executive. Currently, the business offers content creation, content editing and content marketing strategy services for individuals, startups and small businesses. Until the lion learns to tell its stories, history will always glorify the hunter - African Proverb Click To Tweet

Why is storytelling a key component of business in today’s world?

Any business currently operating without a storytelling strategy is like the lamp hidden under the table. The question is, how can any voiceless business make the desired impact? Any modern day business seeking to build visibility or awareness, influence, and profits must first connect to the minds of their ideal audiences. The only way to achieve this connection and to build customer-centered relationships is through genuine and persuasive brand narratives.

How can our Motherland Moguls incorporate storytelling into their businesses to give them an edge?

Africa’s history or backstory has propelled a lot of young women to fearlessly pursue lofty dreams that they are neither afraid of nor ashamed of. But, how do we validate these efforts Young women building great businesses on this continent should see business storytelling as the tool for showcasing Africa. They can use written, visual or spoken content with calls-to-action, to tell persuasive brand stories. Though, they have to ensure they develop a unique content strategy that aligns with their business goals. Secondly, through effective use of internet, social and traditional media, women can constantly connect, engage, convert and nurture potentials who will become loyal followers of their brands. Through all this, we inspire, educate and drive positive change. Attention is the new currency. You have to tell it, to sell it - @iamchidindu Click To Tweet

Can storytelling be applied to young ladies building their careers? 

Of course, it can! In this day and age, where Thought Leadership is ever-thriving, young career women ought to see storytelling as a means to stand out. Also, young women growing in their careers have a lot of stories to tell based on their gifts, skill sets, knowledge, and experience. Therefore, storytelling becomes a wonderful tool for grooming other young women who want to follow their paths. As long as someone is telling stories that are connecting and helping people, they will always remain relevant.  

What careers can young women find in storytelling? 

Storytelling is broad. Business Storytelling and Content Marketing are just the tip of the iceberg. Most of these career paths are wrapped around (brand) journalism, mass communications, theatre and filmmaking, arts and literary studies, information and communication technology. Young women can then take up specific roles such as content creator, editor, speechwriter, graphic designer, film and even research writer among many others. These different roles allow them to solve problems and create value.

What excites you about using storytelling as a strategy? 

The first thing that excites me is that storytelling is human. I do not need to go develop complex machines as well as specific instructions to give them. It’s a way to connect effortlessly with people and travels faster than formulas or data. Wrapping data in a story makes it easier for people to understand a difficult concept. After all, people think in stories and not figures. The great thing about storytelling it that it’s transgenerational. It’s a strategy that worked for our forefathers and still works in the business world. Businesses can use storytelling to change people’s attitudes about a product and even the culture.

What advice would you give young women trying to carve a niche for themselves? 

Every dream is valid! You are the one who validates the dream. When you are persistent enough to begin producing results, others will then start to validate you. So, start small, aim limitlessly. Nothing good comes cheap. If you show up to your life’s path, life will show up for you - @iamchidindu Click To Tweet  
Does the intersection of helping women live their best lives, and telling their stories through the media, events, technology, and data-driven thinking sound A++ to you? If so, think about joining us at the SLA HQ. See Job openings here.