OPINION: Why dating and networking go hand in hand

Kara Jenkins
By Kara Jenkins | 11 February 2013
Visual Jazz Isobar creative director Kara Jenkins.

Love is in the air for all the romantic couples out there, unless of course, you’re one of those few that believe Valentine’s Day is a conspiracy created to sell cute little cards with bears holding love hearts on them. Either way, I don’t know many girls out there who’d say no to a dozen roses or a bouquet of lilies (just saying boys).

I can’t say I’m all that experienced when it comes to dating, but I have been to my fair share of industry networking events, particularly since launching SheSays in Melbourne last year, and I’ve come to realise that the same principles apply to both. And while dating and networking can be equally daunting, they can also deliver great results, be it the perfect career connection or the perfect partner. 

So for those feeling a little nervy, here, I give you, my top 10 dating, I mean networking tips:

1. Smile – it’s the universal language of friendliness and you just can't go wrong with a smile. You’ll be more approachable and people will gravitate towards you.

2. Linkedin is RSVP for networking – you can stalk your industry peers and read up about them, and add them to your favourites. Make sure you always keep your profile up to date. Why not read up on the key speakers at your next event and then approach and dazzle them with your knowledge of their CV – a great conversational starter. You’ll be surprised how quickly they turn the conversation back to you.

3. One small step for WOman – Confidence is key. As you would on a date, do and wear what makes you feel confident – it’s all about feeling good in yourself.

4. Double dating – just as you feel more secure on a double date, why not take a friend to a networking event! Divide and conquer the room knowing that your bestie is not far away, or approach people together and watch the conversation flow.

5. Don’t be negative – no one likes a sourpuss.

6. Have a few questions ready to break the ice  – let’s steer well clear of the weather, but as you might ask a date about their interests, look at a fellow networker’s name tag, and try asking them about their company, or discuss a key speaker or topic from the event.

7. Flirt – well, to a certain extent anyway. Compliment and create and maintain eye contact when in a conversation.

8. Don’t interrupt – join a conversation naturally and wait for a break to introduce yourself.

9. Speed date – while it may be comfortable to latch on to your new industry buddy and chat to them all night long, think of it like speed dating. Chat, network and move on to the next person.

10.  Call me baby – exchange business cards, but don’t give it out to just anyone. Be sure to follow up with your new contact in the next week or so, otherwise they’ll think they’ve been ditched.

In the spirit of networking, SheSays this month is launching Who’s Your Momma, a mentoring program aimed at women working in advertising, marketing, media and the like, in Melbourne.

We’re on the lookout for mentors and mentees, so if you are interested in attending, please send an email to shesays.melbourne@gmail.com stating your name, title, brief career overview, and whether you are interested in being a mentor or mentee. And happy networking!

Kara Jenkins
SheSays Melbourne
and Creative Director at Visual Jazz Isobar

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