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Compiled and edited by Julie Tereshchuk
I arrived in Austin in early March, planning on doing lots of networking to add to my client list. I retained several out-of-state clients when I moved, but I’ve always also liked working with local clients. I know many groups — including WCA — are holding virtual networking meetings but, coming to them as a first-timer, I’m wondering if you have tips on how to connect with prospects who’ve never met me?
I’ve always found that networking (online or in person) works best if you frame it as “making friends in my industry” instead of networking – it changes the types of activities you choose and the mindset you bring to the table.
When I moved back to Austin after almost a decade away, I spent a lot of time the month before the move connecting with people by email, LinkedIn, and Skype (this was the pre-Zoom days). I looked for small-group activities where I could have a meaningful conversation with even just a couple like-minded women. I looked for ways to help and even places to volunteer to underscore that I was there to give more than I asked for.
Things may be different these days, but there are still great opportunities for these small conversations. If someone asks, make sure you have a short, clear definition of the types of work or resources that would be the most perfect fit (as opposed to everything you can do). I encourage you to give back, make friends, and let the business come to you!
Also, WCA’s Careers Over Coffee events have been such good small-group networking in these socially distanced times. I encourage you to check them out.
Welcome to Austin, new friend!
Use this wild time to your advantage and just be honest! When you’re introducing yourself at online networking events, add to your intro that you moved here intending to network in person, but for the time being, you’re searching for X type of contacts, and that if anyone comes to mind, you’d love to connect after the event.
That way, you’re asking, but you’re also doing it within the cultural bounds of the South where it is very difficult to politely yet directly ask for what you need. But hey – we don’t get what we don’t ask for, right!?
With a solid bio or resume and a solid networking list at hand, you should have no problem informally or formally joining a range of organizations, small groups, and meeting individuals online. And yes, in person (that day is near!).
Here’s just a handful of great sources in which to find people and places, including: Austin Business Journal, Austin Woman, various groups on Facebook and LinkedIn, Leadership Austin, and numerous specialty groups by trade such as PRSA, or by personal affiliations such as Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Austin Moms Blog, Austin Moms Network, Women in Technology, Austin AMA, etc.
Lastly, there are so many wonderful nonprofits in town – drill down on those that interest you and join a marketing committee.