5 Networking Lessons for Nieces and Nephews
Maëlis Mittig is a proud NYC Savvy Auntie, and the Director of Marketing and Client Relations at Francis Financial, a Boutique Wealth Management and Financial Planning firm. She has mastered various facets of the Marketing “umbrella” including Networking Strategy, Event Planning, Branding, PR, Strategic Partnerships and more. Maëlis is an active member of Step Up Women’s Network’s Connections Committee, a dedicated volunteer with The Pajama Program, and a pro bono marketing consultant for nonprofits through the Ben Appelbaum Foundation. She earned a B.A. in International Relations and three minors in Business, French and Spanish at The Pennsylvania State University, and is currently working towards a certification in Event & Wedding Planning.
Someone once said, "Only an Aunt can give hugs like a mother, can keep secrets like a sister, and share love like a friend."
As Savvy Aunties, we’re often wondering what piece of advice will bring the most value to our nieces’ and nephews’ futures. Today, we focus on the concept of networking.
The term, networking, in its broadest sense, refers to the finding and cultivation of ongoing, mutually beneficial connections made with individuals in a professional setting. We attend networking events to meet likeminded people who could potentially become our referral partners and lead to new client leads. Of course, before entering the business world, we need to know how to create connections to get jobs, internships, and create a solid web of people who can help us advance in our soon-to-be career.
Knowing how to network is crucial, and one of the most necessary skills to have while climbing the corporate ladder. If you can teach your nieces and nephews the basics of being a good networker and help them to understand ways to create, grow, and maintain relationships with valuable professionals, their career paths will be that much easier. Here are a few tips for networking that will help them on their journey.
1. Create an “Elevator Pitch:” Although most networking is done at events, career fairs, and organized affairs, you never know when you might run into the right person at the right time; and you don’t want to walk away thinking about what you failed to say. Creating a short and rehearsed “elevator pitch” or “personal branding statement” is key to always feeling confident when you encounter someone who is relevant to your professional growth. Come up with a few sentences that describe what you do, what industry you work/study in, your target market, and your goals and aspirations for your business. Give the person you meet the desire to learn more about you, and if you know who they are, come up with ways to make the connection a strategic partnership. Confident first impressions are the keys to successful networking.
2. Dress professionally: Although this one is a no-brainer, there are many times when you run into someone wearing jeans at a professional event. If in doubt, dress professionally. Be put together enough that no one will be distracted by what you’re wearing. For girls, it’s okay to get creative with your outfits, but make sure to keep it chic. Statement pieces like scarves, necklaces, and earrings are great with a tailored suit. Don’t leave your house unless you can look in the mirror and think, “I would hire myself.”
3. Choose your events wisely: When choosing your events, be sure to pick one where you will be surrounded by your ideal referral partners. A referral partner is a professional who shares a similar client base, but offers different services. For example, if I was starting out as a Divorce Attorney, I would look for other Divorce Professionals, such as mediators, coaches, financial analysts, and insurance consultants. Think about your clientele or your need, and create a list of ideal professionals for your network.
4. Study the guest list: As for everything else in life, it’s always best to come prepared. Study the guest list before the event, and seek out the top five people you would like to meet. Once at the event, surprise them by knowing who they are. This goes for all ages and stages. If you are going to a career fair, make sure you study the companies coming and their representatives. This will give you added confidence when entering a room full of strangers. No matter what the organization might be, I recommend looking up the host of the event and seeking them out to thank them for inviting you and throwing such a great affair.
5. Follow Up: Finally, the hardest part: keeping in touch. Staying in touch is the most important part and one that many professionals fail to do. When you get home and look through the business cards you’ve collected, immediately make notes directly on their cards. Invest in a business card holder, and chronologically file cards from anyone you met. This will help you remember where you met them and why you found them so interesting. You can use tools like LinkedIn to connect with your new contacts or use iPhone apps like Card Munch to keep a database of your contacts on your phone. Card Munch is a tool that allows you to simply photograph the business card, and the app will extract all of the information and load it into your phone contact book, connect you to their LinkedIn profile, and allow you to make notes directly in the entry. If your nieces or nephews are a bit unorganized when it comes to business cards, this is the perfect tool for them. Following up also requires continuous communication. Invite your contacts to lunch events, or check in with them via email.
Photo: Stuart Miles
Published: October 23, 2012