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How Speed Networking Is A Lot Like Dating

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May 30 2013, Published 8:53 a.m. ET

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Last week, HerAgenda along with Patrice Peck hosted a night of speed networking in partnership with Internet Week. We had an opening keynote from the founder of TheBrandingMuse: Emmelie De La Cruz. After the panel she posted this amazing piece about how the rules of networking are a lot like the rules of dating. Read on to check out her tips. 

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I had the pleasure of being the keynote at the Break the Ice Speed Networking event hosted by the lovely Patrice Peck and Rhonesha Byng of HerAgenda.com at the Brooklyneer in NYC. The event followed the same concept of speed dating with a professional twist and was filled with young, engaging and might I add, stylish, young professionals. There was never a dull moment in the room as people exchanged business cards and ideas. Networking has a lot more in common with dating than many people think and I shared some networking etiquette do’s and don’ts at the event. I’ll share some of them with you here. Let’s explore the definition of networking first.
Networking – cultivation of productive relationships for mutual benefit, kept active through consistent communication.

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There are three things that we should focus on: productive relationships, mutual benefit and consistent communication. I’ll highlight these with different dating scenarios:

Number Exchange

Ladies, have you ever been minding your own business on your cell phone and a man hovers over you and says “Why don’t you put my number in your phone?” Guys, have you ever gotten an eye roll, been laughed at, or just plain ignored when you have used this line? This situation is uncomfortable for both parties and should just be avoided. Don’t be this guy and adjust your approach.

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In dating, like in networking, a proper introduction is required in order for the other party to identify how this is a productive relationship. When you meet someone in a networking setting, use your elevator pitch to inform the listener of who you are and what you do. After you have learned more about each other, proceed to ask the other person for their business card or contact information. It is your responsibility to follow-up and if the person is interested as well, they will ask for your information or return your message. Never hand your business card to someone without being asked for it. It can be rude and awkward.

First date

A first date is about getting to know someone and engaging them in conversation. By discovering what you have in common and if your personalities are compatible, you are able to gauge if there is mutual benefit from continuing the relationship. The same goes for networking. What are you bringing to the table? Focus on asking questions and as well as communicating your passions and expertise so that you uncover what the mutual benefit is. The fortune is in the follow-up. Make sure that it’s not a one night stand and you leave your new contact in the dark. Be sure to follow-up with an email or even a tweet to show that you appreciated their time.

Introduction to Mom

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Would you introduce someone to your mom after a few dates? Probably not, so what makes you think it is ok to ask for a favor within days of meeting someone? Networking is a process that requires consistent communication and interaction both on and offline before you ask for anything from your new contact. The same way you want to make sure that your significant other is special enough to meet your family, you should work on showing your value and credibility to your contact before you ask for favors, job leads or recommendations of any sort. Remember that you will be a reflection of your contact, so do not put them in an awkward situation by asking for things too soon. Work on connecting over social media to spark conversations and even inviting the person out for coffee, lunch or to attend an event with you.

I had a great time last night and truth is, I can’t teach you how to network; the art of interpersonal communication and charisma cannot be taught, but I hope that the tips above help you avoid a networking disaster and even help you land a few dates. Good luck and enjoy the video [visit TheBrandingMuse to check out the video].

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