Krista Parkinson, entertainment industry veteran and founder of My Grads Get Jobs, gives us
5 of her secrets for networking success!
I recently spoke to a group of College Ambassadors from DreamJobbing about my favorite topic; “Networking" or what I like to call, “The Art of Making Meaningful Connections." True connections take years to form but it all starts when you make initial contact. Meeting someone new can be challenging, but here are a few tips to make it a little bit easier the next time you are in a large group setting like a party, lecture, university panel or other professional gathering.
APPEARANCE: BLACK IS SLIMMING, BUT PINK IS WINNING
Your exterior must match your interior. I'd encourage you to stand out in a way that is authentic to you and your personality and tailor it to the type of event you are attending. Just as sequins would be inappropriate at Nitro Circus, so are jeans at a cocktail party for Disney executives. I tend to wear red, pink or white dresses paired with some high heels when I go to professional events with the purpose of building up my rolodex! I never want to try to look like a man in a boxy suit, nor do I want to blend into a room of black outfits. Sure, all black is sophisticated and slimming, but you look like everyone else and I'd rather have my presence pop like a pretty pink peony!
ALCOHOL: "KP'S RULE OF ONE-AND-DONE"
Remember how you parents told you “don't talk to strangers" when you were a little kid? As you grew up, your ability to judge good and bad people became more refined so the need for the rule went away with experience. Well, the same is true for this rule and it might change as you get older, but for now, If you are 21, feel free to have one glass of wine to be more social at a party. But that is it. Sure, free booze sounds great, but you must remember you are in a room of friendLY people who are not your FRIENDS. It is better to err on the side of being more professional than treating an event like your frat house on a weekend. So when you are headed back to the bar for your second drink, stop and think of KP's Rule of One-and-Done and do an about face STAT!
HANDSHAKES: FIRM, DRY OR NONE AT ALL
Nobody likes a clammy hand. A close second to that is a weak or a dead fish handshake. If either of these sound familiar to you, get out of a mano-y-mano greeting pronto. Say that you are just getting over a cold or something a long the lines of “I'm a little nervous to be here and I've got sweaty hands. I'm not trying to be unfriendly, but I don't want to gross you out." I preach authenticity and truth, but on this issue, nothing good comes from a damp hand so avoid it even if you haven't had a sickness in the past 12 years.
BOYFRIENDS: LEAVE YOUR GUY AT HOME
Ladies, leave your boyfriends and male friends at home. Men will not approach you when you are with another guy, even if he is your gay bestie! Your goal is to know as many people as possible so drop dude and go with your favorite gal pal! Ideally, bring a friend with a complementary skill set to yours. I used to love going to events with my friend who was a lawyer. She knew an entirely different set of people that she could introduce me to and vice versa.
CONVERSATION: YOU HAVE 2 EARS AND 1 MOUTH, USE THEM IN THAT RATIO
So often we are told to have an elevator pitch, you know, the two or three sentences about you or a project you are passionate about. Well this is completely backwards. In order to get people interested in you, you must first be interested in them. Both Dale Carnegie (“How to Win Friends and Influence People") and Stephen Covey (“7 Habits of Highly Effective People") agree that the key to building solid relationships is to first listen and understand another person's point of view. So ask questions that you are genuinely interested in and just listen. Conversation will flow. “What brings you to this event?" “I love your shoes!" “How do you know the host?" etc….
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Krista has two speaking events coming up at USC, Friday, March 25 and April 13. If you'd like to learn more, or just get awesome advice about breaking into the entertainment industry, be sure to subscribe to her newsletter here!