Posted by Mary Kay Russell, WIT Executive Director
Mary Kay Russell has worked in the toy industry in multiple roles as an inventor, manufacturer, communications executive, and marketing consultant, making her someone who can address issues from multiple viewpoints. She has also been an active member of WIT in various roles for over 10 years, including former board member and Chicago Chapter Chair.
“You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.” ~Walt Disney
Professional networking organizations like WIT give you opportunities that can literally turn dreams into reality. You have the chance to share ideas, promote career development, step into leadership roles, and learn new tricks of the trade.
Joining is the easy part, but what then? Networking is largely dependent on the give and take. And just like any great relationship, it’s all about nurturing and creating value for one another.
Here are 8 tips to help you network like a boss, make the most of your member experience, and put you miles ahead of the competition.
- Show Up
If there is a local chapter or meet-up near you, attend an event. Go a step further and offer to help plan future events. Participate as often and consistently as you can. Never stop networking.
- Break Away From the Pack
We often gravitate to who we know and fall into the comfort trap. But this robs you of the chance to see new opportunities that could be one close connection away. Open your mind to opening up to someone you don’t know, and it could just be your next business deal.
- Listen & Learn
Once you make a connection, build the relationship by listening more, talking less, and showing genuine interest. You may be surprised to find that their needs are closely aligned with what you have to offer. Listen first, build trust, show your value. No sales pitch required.
- Ask and Ye Shall Receive
Being a good listener starts by asking good questions. Delve a little deeper to learn more. We’re not talking 10th degree here; keep the questions simple, thoughtful, and not too personal. And be sure to trade business cards.
- Nurture your New Network
Make it a point to follow up with an email the next day to say that you enjoyed the conversation.Then take it up a notch and arrange to meet for coffee or a casual meal. 30 minutes or an hour with just the two of you to learn more about each other’s background and businesses can reveal new opportunities and ways to help each other.
- Beyond The Events
Get involved in your networking organization beyond the live events. Do you have skills that can benefit others? Put yourself out there, volunteer for committee work, be of service to others. You’ll quickly be known for the value you provide, and the rewards you’ll reap will come back tenfold.
- Get Your Profile Ready for Prime Time
Want to find people, or do you want people to find you? The best way to see and be seen is to keep your member profile up to snuff. WIT’s Membership Directory allows you to search by name, title, company name, location, and job description.
- Make the Most of Member Benefits
Scope out the member benefits of your organization, and take full advantage. WIT offers its members access to exclusive webinars, a Concierge Service that connects members on the road, Job Board, a private Facebook Group to collaborate on ideas and get industry resources, and great discounts on local and national events.