Being in a room full of confident Type-A personalities can be really intimidating, especially if you’re kind of shy like me. In college I always sat in the back of class praying I would never get picked to elaborate on the assigned text because I was so nervous about speaking in public. What I learned form my shyness is that I could set myself apart by using my other assets. So how do you stand out at a networking event full of high-achieving women without evaporating into thin air? Here are seven tips that will make you stand out, get noticed and be remembered at any networking event you attend.
You Are What You Wear
I once read an article from a female editor at a top publishing company who said, “The amount of women that showed up looking like they were going clubbing after I interviewed them was shocking, I never took any of them seriously.” This is 2016 and women should have the freedom to dress the way they want, but the editor I just quoted makes a strong point. You want to make sure what you’re wearing is appropriate for the event you are attending. Anything that overly sexualizes you or is too revealing will undermine your credentials, not to mention distract anyone from getting to know the real you. Put together a rocking outfit that you feel great in and honors your sense of style. Feel free to wear color so you stand out but just remember to keep it classy and chic.
Know Who You Are
Who you are is who you present yourself as and you may only get one chance to do it. Memorize a clean, concise but lively introduction about yourself. The key word here is concise, you will have the opportunity to tell them more about yourself as the conversation continues. Your introduction should include your full name, what you are looking to gain from that day’s engagement and anything else you think is relevant. If you can throw some humor in there go for it but don’t force anything and don’t be offensive.
Genuine conversation leaves a lasting impression on anyone. I worked as a waitress throughout college and the amount of people that came back to the restaurant months later who remembered my name, where I was from and what I was doing with my life was amazing. After you have gotten the formalities out of the way such as who you are, who they are, what company they work for and their position start asking more personal questions like, what was your major in college? What did you do before your current position? How did you find the job you are doing? You can even ask about their hobbies and interests outside of work, or what their favorite city to visit. Try to elicit a story out of them that way they will feel comfortable with you and without realizing it you have formed a bond.
You will have more in common with them than you think. Most of the time they are so used to the same humdrum questions that they will be relieved to talk about something else. One extra tip here is to try to ask them something that you find interesting too then you will have more of a genuine connection. For example, if you like to read, ask them if they are reading anything interesting right now or if you like traveling, ask them about their last vacation; this can also be a great point of reference if you decide to contact them later. But remember the objective of these events is to network so make sure you’re getting important information about their product or the company they work for and how you can be a part of it.
Fake It Until You Make It
Acting more confident than you actually are can be tough but you don’t have to pretend that you’re someone else entirely. Also, asserting yourself a little can go a long way. Do whatever makes you feel grounded the morning before going to a networking event whether that is meditating, a strong female power pose, like Wonder Woman, or imagining you’re going to your favorite place with your favorite people. Remember these women were all in your situation at some point and they are only human. Being authentic will put them and yourself at ease.
Make Sure Your Resume And Business Cards Are Accessible
I was once at a panel discussion on how to break into the publishing industry. After the discussion was over we were encouraged to mingle with the panel to find out about possible job opportunities. One of the first things I was asked by one of the top speakers was did I have my resume with me as she told me she wanted to pass it along to her peers for review. I hadn’t brought my resume with me but luckily today email is a godsend. However, it took several attempts to get her attention before I got an email back. It would have been easier and faster to have had a copy of my resume on me to hand to her directly; bauce women are busy so show them that you understand the value of their time by always having your materials ready and on hand. Another way to be remembered is to have a business card that has some flare to it (like a fancy accent color or particular cut). Adding colors, a picture or a powerful quote will definitely make you memorable.
Ask If They Are Looking For A Mentee
People love helping other people or at least they love the idea of it. If you come away from a conversation feeling like you have truly connected with someone, ask if they are willing to meet with you once a week or twice a month to mentor you in your pursuit of finding your dream job. If they cannot meet with you in person, ask if they can talk over the phone or via email. This shows not only diligence and dedication, it also is a way for a potential employer to get to know you over time. The chances are they will consider you for employment when they have an opening or pass your information along to one of their peers who is hiring for a position you are looking for. At the very least it will give you an inside scoop on how to get into the field.
Leave A Deposit
Leave a deposit is one of my favorites and is by far one of the easiest. Leaving a deposit is leaving your encounter with someone on a high. This is done by offering them a compliment; for example, telling the person you were talking to that you got something really valuable from your conversation with them. They will feel empowered and will be left with a good impression of you. Being nice is underrated but it has gotten me so far in my life and career. Almost every job I have gotten has been through a friend or someone I had just met (that I was nice to!) that knew someone who was hiring for a position that I was seeking. You should never go overboard with this technique by being overly insincere. Just try being gracious in your everyday life for practice and see how far that gets you.
What are your tips for standing out in a crowd of ambitious women?