Top five tips to maximize your networking effectiveness

The HBA had the pleasure of speaking Lauren Celano, founder and CEO of Propel Careers, regarding networking best practices. Many of you may not realize that Lauren founded her company after she set out to meet like-minded entrepreneurial professionals nine years ago. She ultimately met her co-founder who shared the same interest in helping others navigate the life sciences landscape. You can tell she is very passionate about networking.   

Lauren’s story underscores the value of building relationships. The great thing about networking is that it can open doors to new possibilities. The hard part is that for many, the very idea of networking can be overwhelming and scary. On the flip side, even extroverts have difficulty making the best connections. Given the importance of building relationships, how can you maximize your effectiveness?   

The key is preparation. Here are five practical tips and techniques to consider before jumping into your next round of networking:

  1. Approach networking with a plan. Know what you are looking for and who you want to connect with. Armed with this information, you can then decide where are the best places to go. The next step is to mentally prepare. if you are interested in meeting a VP of clinical at a company that you hope to work for, what would you say?
  2. Be approachable. Make eye contact. Smile. Look for the people exhibiting cues they are also looking for someone to engage with. Also, don’t assume everyone else is comfortable networking. Even seasoned networkers get the jitters. Don’t be afraid to say hello first.
  3. Don’t take it personal. If someone doesn’t respond the way you had hoped, find someone else. Maybe they had a bad day, are nervous themselves or just aren’t open to starting a conversation at that time. It’s OK. There are plenty of other people to strike up conversations with.  
  4. Make the connection. Always bring business cards. Connect with them on LinkedIn. Ask if it’s ok to connect later to continue the dialogue.
  5. Follow-through. I can’t underscore this enough, a one-time conversation is not a relationship, it is just that – a conversation. There are many ways to follow-up, the more personal you can make it (sending them an article on the topic you are discussing, etc.) the better. Get to know them as a person. Not every interaction should include an ‘ask’.

Looking for more in-depth preparation? Interested in creating an elevator pitch before your next event but unsure how to begin? In conjunction with HBA Boston, Lauren Celano is speaking at an event entitled: Building Strong & Lasting Relationships – Injecting Chemistry into Your Networking on Thursday, 5 April from 5:30-8:30 PM at Merck.