As a student who is about to graduate college, I have learned that networking is just as important as an education. It has been said that “networking is your net worth”. I’ve always been someone who is intimidated by meeting random people I’ve never met, but one thing I've also learned is that practice makes perfect.
So, what do heels have to with business networking? What we wear can change how we feel about ourselves. For me, heels are a woman's best asset when it comes to her business wardrobe. Heels can bring a sense of power and confidence in one’s posture that flats can’t live up to. Although wearing heels helps me to feel self-assured, sometimes there are voices in my head that won’t stop putting me down. We all have these voices in our heads that can make us feel fearful or insecure.
When I went to my first Interview those voices lingered.
But, I went to my first day of work, those voices faded into background noise.
The point is with more exposure to meeting, conversing, and working alongside business professionals, the more those defeating voices turned into affirmative ones. I learned that experience is the best way to add some pep in your step that a heel may not always carry.
TIPS ON HOW TO WALK AND TALK LIKE A NETWORKING PROFESSIONAL:
1. Create your elevator pitch: Your elevator pitch is who you are. It should be 1-2 sentences that include what you want to do and what you can offer. Introductions can be hard, but having a solid sentence or two at your disposal can be reassuring. Be sure to do your research beforehand and showcase your knowledge of the company throughout the conversation. You should also have a few general open-ended questions prepared. Some examples are; what advice can you give me going into this field? Or in your opinion, what trends do you foresee in your line of work?
2. Listen more than you talk: Small talk can be easy at first; you give a firm handshake, introduce yourself with a smile and explain your work or what you are studying. But what next? This is where listening comes in. Pick up on keywords that you can relate to and start a conversation around them. If you get stuck, just refer back to your list of open-ended questions.
3. Be aware: Over 80% of communication is non-verbal. Therefore, it is important to take note of the other person's body language. When conversing with someone, follow and mimic their mannerisms. This shows that you are interested and paying attention. Notice your own body language. Are you appearing more open or closed off? If open than you will be perceived as more approachable than, if your arms are crossed and your head is down. Be aware of how comfortable you are and what you struggle with so that you can improve for the next opportunity.
Slip-on a pair of heels and keep these tips in your back pocket to unlock the confidence of a professional networking queen (: