Over the last year, The Girls’ Lounge has become a fixture at high profile events including the 2016 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland (where just 18% of the attendees were female) and SXSW. On the heels of getting our own inside peek at The Girls’ Lounge at this week’s Dmexco, Digital Marketing Exposition and Conference, in Cologne, Germany, we spoke with Zalis about her philosophy for cultivating her own network. In this latest “Master Class,” she offers six of her own personal tips for forging lasting connections.
1. Forget “Networking.” Work on Relationships.
Shelley Zalis: “A network is not something you pick up and put down. I think it’s about relationships that you create and stay with. So it’s sort of like girlfriends. It’s not like you pick them up and put them down. You don’t have to call them and talk to them all the time, but they always know you’re there, and when you need something you can pick up the phone in two minutes and it’s like you never missed a beat.
2. Friendships Can Lead to Partnerships.
Zalis: “Some of my best friends today I met through work and it’s because you spend a lot of time together and we know each other. We have fun together too. I think when women do business with other women (and I’m not saying you shouldn’t network with men, too) but I have personal relationships with them where making them the best they can be in business makes me feel really happy. Networking doesn’t happen through the phone and it’s not about a handshake. Networking is not about a handshake. It’s beyond the handshake.
3. Skip the Cocktail Party. Go to Lunch.
Zalis: “The problem with just going (to a cocktail party), if you’re new in the industry and you want to get ahead, is if you just go to a cocktail party and you don’t know anyone, most people are already talking to people that they know. So my best tip is if you’re going to go into a networking event where you don’t know anyone, I would say don’t go to the cocktail party because no one is going to talk to you because it’s too a short period of time to get to know someone. Go to a lunch or go to a event where you have more time and go get a seat at a table where you don’t know anyone and by the end of the night you’ll know ten new people.”
4. Tweet and Meet.
Zalis: “I think there’s always an ask. So if you do develop a relationship through social (media), then the ask should be, ‘When can we get together in person? I would love to get to know you better.’ It can start on social media. But you then need to really create a connection. You can create awareness that ‘this is who I am on social media.’ But to really get to know someone, there is nothing more important than in-person relationships.”
5. Make Better Use of Business Cards.
Zalis: “If you get a business card, write something on that business card about the person that you want to follow up with so that you can personalize it. If you give your business card to someone, put a little note on it about who you are so when they go through their business cards at the end of the conference and they have a hundred of them, yours will stand out.”
6. Say Thank You
Zalis: “A handwritten personal note is always beautiful, but an e-mail can get you where you need to go if it’s a personal e-mail. And do not have typos. You can make smart mistakes, but not dumb ones.”
Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Girls’ Lounge
Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business networking association dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs develop, expand and grow. We offer affordable opportunities to help create a positive impact and advancement in your business interests and personal quality of life to take you to the next level.
Stay Connected with WNFP!