Network like you're in New York City
This week I'm working from vibrant New York City. It's a dream to be back in a city that stole my heart at a young age. I remember my first visit at the malleable age of fourteen, just three months after 9/11. It was such a raw and beautiful time to first set eyes on New York. The citizens were a little more united, a little kinder, a little more patriotic, a little more New York than ever before. I was hooked immediately and knew at that time I would move there. By eighteen I packed my bags and headed for the Upper West Side where I dove into acting school and absorbed the languages, culture and let's be honest, sewed some wild oats. (Hello Midori Sours at Hell's Kitchen dive bars)
It has been about eight years since I've spent time here and it's funny how quickly the skyline can change and the buildings can rotate from one catchy restaurant name to another. It feels like when you see an old friend and you recognize them but their style has upgraded and they have a few more laugh lines. It also reminds you, you have changed too. You're no longer the wide eyed teen looking for adventure but the wide eyed entrepreneur looking to build a brand and a culture, and sometimes just pay the bills.
With a desire to connect and explore, I did a quick peek on Eventbrite and came across a free mixer on a rooftop marketing toward "Fashion & Beauty Young Professionals". I figured why not go and check it out. I'm so glad I did. Not only was the space absolutely gorgeous,shout out to PHD at Dream Hotel Midtown, I met a few new people that expanded my network, not to mention enjoyed a few complimentary appetizers.
On an average week we are invited to three networking events and as a team we try to attend at least one. This can be a variety of formal levels from unstructured happy hours to official business mixers and even highly stylized events with coursed meals and pampering. I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite tips and insider observations of networking like you're in New York.
Why even put yourself out there in the first place?
1. You want to get familiar with a new space. A lot of venues and locations are only open certain times and it's hard to work there if you aren't already on a preferred list. If you want to get insider knowledge, evaluate the possibilities and talk up the person who runs the space. Ask specific questions like, what is the capacity, how far do they book in advance, is it a historic property? (Reason of Event Planners, Caterers, Photographers, Rental Companies, Mobile Bars, Musicians, etc)
2. You want to promote something such as an upcoming event you're hosting, gain interest for a podcast (Shout out to Peach & Honey), or get some traction on your IG page. If you are hitting your head against your keyboard just waiting for people to click on your links, take a break from the blue lights and get out in real life to tell someone what you're doing and why they might enjoy it. (Reason for Podcasters, Bloggers, Online Coaches, Gym Owners, Pet Groomers, etc)
3. Maybe you found a topic you want to learn about. Lots of educational events have a networking component attached. Whether you are trying to improve your Pinterest skills or learn Calligraphy there is usually some form of introductions and light mingling. Don't waste this time, decide if this serves your purpose or not to stay and continue the event or head out right after the lesson is complete. (Reason for everyone - Every single entrepreneur should be consistently learning something)
4. The most obvious to me, is to gain clients, but it's actually the least place I find brides or grooms. With that said any business can have potential clients everywhere. Maybe the people you are mixing with aren't your ideal clients, but someone they know is. For example you own a Mobile Makeup Airstream and the majority of the attendees are men that aren't interested in beauty. Still look at them as potential clients because I'm sure they have a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend that could be interested. (Reason for people who sell business to business)
5. Entrepreneurs just wanna have fun, oh entrepreneurs just a wanna have, fun. Being an entrepreneur can be lonely and sometimes we have to do boring things we don't want to do. If your week is dragging get a pick me up by attending an event with other like minded people that are going to re-inspire you and get your fire burning brighter. Have a cocktail, tell a joke, smile for goodness sakes. This doesn't all have to be so serious!
(This cocktail is from PHD Rooftop at Dream Midtown and was the best beverage I had the whole time I was visiting NYC)
What do you do once you're there?
1. Mingling is key at networking events. Don't be nervous to work the room. Do a loop to start and scope out who is there, what activities there are and of course where the cheese is. Once you've seen the scenery it's time to make a connection. Start a conversation with a stranger one of two ways. The first is a compliment. For me I love talking to people that I like their style or saw they were recently published or just have cute earrings. It makes me feel like the possibility of me enjoying their company is higher if I am attracted to an aspect about their vibe. You can also start a convo with an "I" statement. It can honestly be anything. "I just signed up for this today, how did you hear about this event?" "I'm so glad they have the lights dimmed, my eyes are killing me from editing all day". Try to be honest but give a little meat to the sentence, something for someone to respond too.
2. Now that you're chatting don't dive right into what you do, listen and ask about them. Where did they get their company name? What are some of their core values? Do they have specific hours and times for their business? Are they a brick and mortar or only online? You are asking these questions to decide if you want to further connect, and just because people are interesting if you ask the right questions.
3. Pivoting is key. Don't get sucked into a twenty minute conversation with one person. It's called a mixer for a reason. Once you decide if you are compatible with this person either as an online friend, possible power partner to share business with in the future or just really like their business then connect. I suggest connecting on your favorite social media platform such as Linked In or Instagram OR immediately program them in your contacts. If you aren't vibing with them, maybe their voice annoys you, maybe your businesses have nothing in common, maybe you don't agree with their values or business model, just move on. Let them know it was wonderful to chat and you appreciate their time and keep it rolling. There is no obligation to continue a conversation with anyone that is not connecting with you. The time you are at this event is in place of getting work done, spending time with your children, getting a massage, so make it count!
The follow up is key.
It's honestly too exhausting to follow up with every person you interacted with. I always ask when we exchange cards or emails if I can add them to my email list. That way I keep connected somehow to every person. I do a personal follow up to one key person from every event recapping what we connected on and how we can move forward together.
Cheers to the two goddesses that worked a Forbes that invited me to have bottle service with them at their table. You two were lovely and exactly what I expect young, professional New York women to exude. Thank you to the two women from Berlin that chatted me up while we bonded over Greta being at the Global summit and discussed the differences in culture from Germany to LA. A huge thanks to Jayden (follow him @nightsetter for all the hottest industry and artistic mingles in NYC) for posting the event in the first place and welcoming me into such a posh and positive crowd.
It's such a perk of the job and something we enjoy but it would be silly not to try to get something out of it. Sometimes what we get out of it is inspiration, new business connection or just a belly full of cheese and well vodka.
You won't know until you go.