With the sun shining and spring in full bloom, it’s likely that your fashion calendar is packed full of stylish events this time of year. Fashion conferences, industry events and even casual cocktail hours can present prime opportunities for networking, so seize the moment and make the most of every occasion to connect with these 5 easy to follow tips.
Be interesting, but be interested
Don’t get so wrapped up in your own story that you dominate the conversation. Yes, you want to share things about yourself or your work that are relevant and interesting, but it’s equally important to show a genuine interest in the other person too. Ask about current projects they’re working on, what trips they have planned this summer, or what their take is on a current industry event. Don’t ask so many questions that the conversation feels more like an interview, but do find a balance in the conversation and remember to keep it fun.
Dress the part
Some of my fashion industry friends will tell you that finding the perfect outfit for an event is half the fun of attending- but don’t get so caught up in your outfit that it distracts you from your evening. Shoes that you can’t walk in and dresses that are too short to sit down in are all big no-no’s for fashion events. Put your best foot forward by choosing an outfit that fits well, feels appropriate for the occasion and enhances your confidence. Trust me, there’s nothing worse than having to adjust your outfit all night. It will distract you from connecting with others at the event and ruin your chances of making meaningful connections.
Do your homework
Fashion conferences and industry events often release the line-up of speakers in advance. Take the time to read up on the people that spark your interest. Check out their latest blog posts, follow them on Twitter and get familiar with their work. You just may bump into them at the event and now you’ll have something to talk about. Get on the radar of your favorite speakers in advance by responding to their posts on social media and engaging in the conversation.
Be Present (and be nice)
It’s quite comical and equally annoying when you go to an event in real life and realize that everyone is more interested in their smart phones than they are in the party. I’ll admit, in the digital age of social media it’s important to do a virtual check-in, snap a few pics and post a tweet or two while at an event, but don’t make the mistake of being a slave to your smart phone all night. Look around. Smile at new faces and say hello. Keep in mind that other party guests are often just as anxious as you. Don’t be afraid to be the first one to break the ice.
Skip the Entourage
If you prefer to travel in a pack, chances are you’ll miss out on meeting new people at networking events because you’ll spend the evening chatting with people you already know. When my friend Andrea and I attended a fashion blogging conference together in New York last year, we would periodically split up throughout the day in an effort to cultivate new connections. We often found that conference guests who were attending the conference solo were more willing to engage in conversation than those who were part of a larger group. This strategy meant that we could connect with twice the number of people than we would have if we had worked the room together.
Make the most of networking events by having plenty of business cards on hand and following up with new connections within 2-3 business days. Keep your email follow-up short but do include information on how to keep in touch by including links to your website and applicable social media pages like Linked In. Networking at fashion events is a vital part of establishing yourself in the industry. If talking to strangers at events is outside of your comfort zone, chances are you just aren’t doing it enough. Get out there and remember, networking can actually be a very stylish opportunity to get offline and have fun!
Photo Credit: Eyesplash – feels like spring