The Importance of Networking

Tue, 10/27/2015 - 1:15pm -- Jvillage

It’s conference season! We are gearing up to go on the road & we hope that you are too. Before packing your bags, we recommend to have a strategy in place before attending large events. Here are our suggestions on how to maximize your time at conferences and other networking events:

  1. Conferences are worth the cost. It’s important to know about emerging trends and to keep learning. There are tons of conferences for Jewish organizations, such as the upcoming NATA & USCJ conventions.  By attending these conferences (we’ll be there!) you’ll learn new ideas from leaders in the field, have chances to meet like-minded professionals, and a place to share your struggles and successes with colleagues.

  2. Show up early to events or programs. Especially for introverts, arriving early to networking events is a good technique. As an early attendee, you’ll notice that the room tends to be much calmer and quieter. It’s easier to find other people to have a conversation with.

  3. Ask open ended questions. It’s challenging to connect with new people and for most of us, it’s much easier to hang in the back and scroll through our Instagram feed. To get a conversation started, simply walk up to someone and ask an open ended question such as “May I join you” or “What brings you to this event?” Yes or no questions stop the flow of conversation. Perhaps you could ask colleagues about what kinds of programs were most successful this past year or how many times a month they send out e-communications. Think of good questions ahead of time.

  4. Prepare for conference-follow-up. Just as you have a plan for attending conferences, create a strategy post-conference. Share what you learned with any important staffers at your organization. Maybe schedule a call with someone you met at the conference to brainstorm membership ideas. Keep the momentum going once you get home.

  5. Online networking works too. Join a LinkedIn group and look for Meetup groups in your area. These are great places to practice your networking skills. Just don’t get caught up too much with online networking, as nothing is as valuable as in-person meetings. If you work from home, consider working in a coworking space.

  6. Lastly, think long-term. Networking is not just about exchanging business cards and connecting on LinkedIn. Networking is most valuable when long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships are formed. Relationships take time and patience to build. Don’t rush the connection. Seek out somewhere you admire & take them out for coffee every few months.

And have fun!  Once you get comfortable with the art of networking, you’ll find new opportunities with your larger network. We look forward to seeing you on the road. Be sure to stop by our booth (you won't miss it) & say hello.

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