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More Networking Tips

Speak up: If the other party can’t hear you, whether it is because it is a noisy room or because you speak softly, you are losing a potentially precious opportunity. This doesn’t mean you should shout it out, but make sure your voice is heard. And there’s another advantage to literally being heard: It denotes confidence, poise, and professionalism. The more you practice this, the more natural it will feel and the better you will become at delivering your brand statement in such a way that the words and the way you speak show the other party you are ready to assist them in solving their problems.

Be prepared for follow up: Any comment that you make as part of your brand statement is fair game for someone to ask follow up questions. In fact, if you craft it correctly, you’ll find that it logically elicits questions, which is a great thing to have in networking – it means that you have enticed the other party to learn more. So be nimble and flexible in your delivery to allow for people to interrupt you. Go with the flow.

Stand by your brand: Don’t say anything in your brand statement that you can’t completely back up – in other words, don’t embellish the truth, lie, or mention something that you knew how to do years ago but have since forgotten. I found this out when I wrote my very first CV as I was graduating college. I didn’t know what was supposed to be on a CV, so I listed every club that I had attended at least one meeting of. When I won a math award, my CV found its way into the hands of the chair of the math department who invited me to his office for a chat. When we met for the first time, his initial words were “how many hours do you have?” I was clueless as to what he was referring, so I responded “Do you mean credits? I have probably about 130 or so credits.” And he shot back “No! How many hours do you have?” He was alluding to what I considered to be a very minor entry on my CV, a listing about how I had been a member of the scuba diving club at the American University in Cairo. And in fact not only was I not a member (I had only gone to a handful of meetings), but I wasn’t even a scuba diver. I tried it at the deep end of the pool and quickly realized it was not for me. But by listing it there I had opened the door for him to discuss it with me. Needless to say I was embarrassed, but fortunately I learned the lesson. I want to ensure that you always feel confident in communicating your value, so you can periodically do a “brand assessment” to determine if you still have mastery of the skills you mention in your statement. For example, after my semester abroad in Egypt, I took many classes in Arabic and became fairly fluent. But that was more than 10 years ago. So although at one point I did mention I was fluent in Arabic in my brand statement and on my résumé, I don’t any more. You always want to make sure when you communicate your brand that it is completely factual and that you have evidence to support it.

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