Network Like a Boss.
Here you are, in NYC. You spent however many years waiting tables or tending bar or busting your ass in retail, just so you could come to the city of opportunity and... do exactly the same thing you were doing in your tiny, little hometown? I don't think so. You came here, not just to dream big, but to be big. You came here to network. You came here to join the hustle. To be fierce and to conquer. To be strong and brave and ambitious and go after the gold.
It's intimidating. It's a bit scary. And it's definitely not easy. But here are some tips and tricks to help you network like a boss and climb the latter to opportunity. Go get it, b**ch... the world is yours.
1) You are the median of those with whom you surround yourself.
It's simple: Hang out with people who have no drive, and that's gonna rub off onto you. Surround yourself by ambitious, successful individuals and you're more likely to be ambitious and successful yourself. So pick carefully where you choose to network. You're not as likely to get anywhere if you're looking to network at a dirty dive bar. Granted, the drinks are going to be more affordable but, other than having a good time, those sorority and fraternity kids aren't exactly going to help your career progress. Instead, try grabbing a drink at a nice lounge. Dress in your classiest garb, roll your shoulders back, sit up straight and order a ritzy cocktail. True, the cocktail might cost you a few extra bucks, but bite the bullet on this one and slowly sip your cocktail as you socialize with those around you who are already set in their career and, therefore, are more likely to open some doors.
2) A strong handshake is everything.
Limp noddle handshakes are a very big "no, no." They're weak, they're gross, they're half-assed, and they exude a lack of interest. There's no need to break someone's hand with an iron grip, but a solid, firm handshake will do wonders as a great first impression. Seriously. Whenever someone gives me a weak handshake, I call them out on it ("You call that a handshake? Let's try this again."). Take notes here: firm handshake + steady grip + eye contact = great first impression. Speaking of eye contact...
3) It's all in the eyes.
Fact: most people have trouble holding eye contact. It makes them uncomfortable because it feels too intimate. But it's also a major power play. Think of two alpha dogs. They stare each other down to show dominance. The one who looks away first is the weaker of the two. Let's be clear here - I am not telling you to start creepily staring at people from across the room or adopt some aggressive eyeballing technique. What I'm saying is, show your sincerity. Don't glance all around the room as you hold a conversation. Smile, hold eye contact, let the other person know that you have a genuine interest in hearing what they are saying and are genuine in your interest to subliminally force them to take in every word that's coming out of your mouth. If you're not used to holding eye contact, this is probably going to start off as making you feel very awkward. Get over it.
4) Fake it 'till you make it.
Strike the word "want" from your vocabulary and replace it with the word "am." Let me explain: No matter where you find yourself hanging out, someone will always ask "So why did you move to New York?" or "So what do you do?" Never say, "Well, I came here because I really want to be a wedding planner." NO. Instead, say "I am a wedding planner." Never talk about what you want to accomplish as though it's somewhere in the possibly unattainable future. Speak about yourself as though you're already exactly where you want to be in life.
This serves two purposes. First of all, the more you convince yourself of a matter, the more it becomes your truth. If you look in the mirror every morning and say, "I am powerful, I am strong, I am desirable," you'll be more likely to believe in yourself and what you are capable of than if you're constantly putting yourself down.
Second of all, the people around you are in NYC for the exact same reason you are - to pursue something. To network. So they won't be nearly as interested in utilizing the services of someone who wants to accomplish a goal, as they would be in the services of someone who already has. Talk the talk and walk the walk and, chances are, you just might find yourself with a new client or job opportunity.
5) Follow up, always.
FOLLOW UP, FOLLOW UP, FOLLOW UP. You've found yourself a cocktail parlor, shook some possibly clammy hands, looked into some eyeballs, and talked yourself up to be way more experienced than you actually are. Good. Hopefully, at this point, you've secured yourself some phone numbers and business cards. Hopefully you've heard the words, "I'd be interested in collaborating..." or "I might know of a job opening at my firm..." or "I could definitely utilize your services for..." This might seem thrilling and all, but it means absolutely nothing if you do not follow up.
Hello! Welcome to New York! People here are flaky. They're all talk and no action. They'll probably forget about you the second you walk out the door... unless you follow up. Yeah, so you gave them your phone number. You gave them your business card and email and all your social media accounts. So what? DO NOT just assume this means they'll call you if they're interested. More likely than not, they'll lose your information. Because, despite all your schmoozing, they don't actually need you. So wait a day or two, then call Joe Schmoe or Jane Doe and use your charisma to remind him or her just exactly why they found you so appealing the night before. Make it happen - that event planning gig or stylist consultation or whatever it is that you're here to accomplish. Follow. Up. And. Make. It. Happen.
You're here to be boss. Get it.
Love, as always, from your,
It Girl Friday