First of all, get over it! Other people may focus on your age, but your focus should be on networking and making connections, not what other people think. You are young, you cannot change that fact, but you are ambitious. That is what matters. I frequently network, I am often the youngest person in the room and occasionally I hear comments about my age. How do I deal with it? I am outgoing, friendly, and confident. Simply because I am young does not mean I do not know what I am talking about. I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree, a great portfolio, and have a tried and true history of handling multiple clients at a time. Once they to talk to me about design and web development they realize that I am qualified for the job.
But what if you do not have a lot of experience? Simple… become a sponge!
Soak up knowledge, meet people, and most importantly, learn. The best way to network is to ask questions. There is nothing easier than getting someone to talk about themselves and their business.
Tell people you are there to learn. Your mission is to soak up their knowledge and guidance. When I started I would say, “Hi, my name is Rebecca. I am a sponge. I am here to learn everything that I can.”
Ask the right questions.
Networkers can go on forever about their company, services and products. Do not just ask what they do. Instead, ask: How did you get started? What do you wish you knew when you started? Where do you suggest looking for a job or resources? Be a reporter and get the inside scoop that will help you build your career. Ready to start networking? Here are some tips to help you on your way.
Quick Networking Tips
- Bring LOTS of Business Cards, but do not start shoving them in people’s faces. Quality contacts over quantity!
- Dress professionally. You are an artist, but you are also entering the business world.
- Prepare a 30 second speech about who you are, what you do, why you are here, and what you are looking for. Often, each person gets up at a meeting and introduces themselves. If you come up with something fun, unique, or clever, you’ll be remembered. Make it interesting!
- Grow Your Garden. Networking takes time. Networkers meet hundreds of people. Become a familiar face and you’ll be remembered. The leads and referrals will follow.
- Make a goal. Each time you go to a meeting make a goal to meet a certain number of new people. Do not just talk to people you already know.
- Write notes. Once you start networking you’ll meet a lot of people. Make notes on the back of each person’s business card (i.e. Where you met them, what you talked about, etc.). It will help jog your memory if they call you up sometime.
- Potential Lead? Follow up the next day. Stay fresh in their mind. Give them a call or send a hand written letter, it’s more personal.
I know this is a lot to take in and this is just scratching the surface, but don’t worry, lots of networking groups offer seminars and workshops on networking, marketing yourself, and growing your career.