Keeping Pace with Speed Networking

  • Posted by: Chaloner

To continue mining some of the expertise around our office, I picked recruiter Christine Santeusanio’s brain this week. Christine attends a lot of networking events, especially of the fast and furious variety, and she has some good advice about how to get the most out of these evenings as an attendee and a facilitator.

SB: I’m always impressed with how proactive you are about seeking out networking opportunities. You’ve been to a lot of events in the past month!
CS: Yes, including Boston Women Communicators, Young Women in Digital, and Young Professionals of PRSA. This week I’m also attending a Pub Club Blogging event at 360 PR and a mixer with the Boston Irish Business Association.

SB: I had no idea there was a Boston Irish Business Association. I wonder if there’s anything for Swedish New York research assistants… How do you find out about these events?
CS: I follow the communications industry related events in the Boston area through Facebook, Eventbrite and signing up for newsletters. When I interview candidates, I always ask them what networking events they find to be a valuable use of time and add them to my list!

SB: Have any of these events stood out in particular? Either for their usefulness or creativity?
CS: The event that stood out the most was the speed networking event with PRSA. The event had about 30 attendees including students, experienced PR professionals and HR representatives. You had three minutes to sit across from another attendee to talk one on one and give your “elevator pitch.” It was extremely useful because you were literally able to meet every single attendee in the room and have valuable one on one time. At many networking events, the attendees tend to stick with their peers and coworkers and not meet new people. Networking can be intimidating and uncomfortable even to extroverts. This event forced you to get out of your comfort zone and talk to everyone.

SB:  Yeah, I sometimes struggle to break out of the groups of people I already know so I appreciate a structure that facilitates some formal mingling. It doesn’t always just happen.
CS:  It’s nice to have events that have a social component as well as a learning component.

SB: Definitely. Amy has a good strategy for that in her post “How to Work a Room.” Do you show up with specific goals in mind or do you just kind of let the evening unfold?
CS: If there is an RSVP list for an event, I review that before attending so that I can try to introduce myself to those who will be there. I also look to see if there is anyone I have met at past networking events in order to reinforce the relationship. It’s a good idea to go into a networking event with some goal, such as making five new connections so you feel like the time was well spent.

SB: That’s a great idea. What else can someone do to get the most out of this kind of experience?

CS: Don’t forget your business cards! It seems obvious, but double check before leaving the door because it’s very easy to lose track of names of folks that you will meet.  Also, try to make a personal connection with the person you are talking to- you might find that you have more in common than just industry related topics.

SB:  Anything to avoid at an event like this? What is it the wrong environment for?
CS:  It’s the wrong environment for being too aggressive. For candidates, it’s the wrong environment for letting everyone know you are looking for a job. It’s important to be discreet.

SB: That makes sense. But you can open up the door for future conversations with new contacts, right? What does your follow up look like?
CS: Usually a personalized note over email or invitation on Linkedin. I’m always impressed when candidates are in touch with me first.

Check out what industry events are happening in your area this month; the more often you cast your net, the more you will catch.