Networking doesn’t have to be intimidating, especially in the Detroit community. Whether it’s your first networking event or your fiftieth, these core networking tips will help you make the most of every moment.
Find an Event
If you’re new to the Detroit community or you just aren’t sure how to find a networking event, don’t worry—there are tons of events happening all the time. Local coworking communities (like Bamboo) often host events that span multiple industries and specifically welcome professionals to the area. Detroit breweries and coffee shops sometimes host similarly focused events in a more casual setting. If you already know which industry you’d like to explore, you can often find Facebook, LinkedIn, and Meetup groups that would love to help you join and connect.
As soon as you sign up for an event, start researching. Check the location of the event and the surrounding area. Gain an idea of how to get to where you need to go, both on the roads and in the building itself. Note where you can park, and more importantly, where you can’t. (If you’re from outside Detroit, just trust us: the Motor City takes parking enforcement very seriously. Park in a verified parking place, use the Park Detroit app for street parking and don’t test your luck.) This simple planning will help you arrive on time and less stressed.
In addition to researching the logistics of the event, check out the Eventbrite or Facebook event to see who else is going. Think about who you know, who might know people you know, and who you want to get to know better. The Detroit community is relatively tight-knit compared to larger cities, so you might be surprised by the connections that you can find. Researching who will be attending the event with you will clear off some of that pesky fear of the unknown, so you can walk into the room invested in those around you and more relaxed overall.
Networking events are great opportunities to assess yourself and your goals. Think about who you are, who you’d like to be, and what that means in the context of networking. Focus on staying true to your authentic self and building on ways you might want to improve, both personally and professionally. Finally, find a way to describe yourself and your business in a concise way. Having clear knowledge of yourself as a person will help you step into the room with confidence and allow you to make deeper connections than if you tried to fit into the mold.
Build Genuine Relationships
Remember, when it gets down to it, “networking” is basically just business jargon for “making friends in a professional setting.” Once you get to the networking event, make it your goal to get to know the other attendees as people, not just as opportunities to advance your career. Focus on sharing your passions and listening to others as they share their own. Overall, just relax. Remember that everyone at a networking event has a similar goal: to build lasting, meaningful relationships.
Look For Ways to Help
One of the best ways you can do that is to look for ways to help those around you. Be curious about other attendee’s ideas, and constantly think about how you can help them achieve their goals. This could involve using your skills to help build their business, reaching out to connections they might want to get to know, or even pointing out a really great coffee spot near their client’s new office. They might accept your help as a simple kindness, and they might try to repay that kindness later, but there should be no expectations attached to it. No matter how large or small, helping others in your business community leads to better friendships, more opportunities for collaboration, and a stronger community as a whole.
However, offers to help don’t mean much if you don’t actually follow through with what you offer. Reach out to your new connections within a few days of the networking event to fulfill your promise. Following through shows that you genuinely care about them and that you are a trustworthy, dependable person overall. This simple follow up is what truly leads to long-term, meaningful relationships.
At Bamboo Detroit, we know how important building connections is to building a business, whether that business is a full startup or a lone freelancer. Our co-working space is centered around the ideals of collaboration and community. If you’re interested in learning more, visit us on BambooDetroit.com