When you’re an independent creative type — graphic designers, dancer, musician, tech guru, writer or anyone who works from home — you’re often missing out on the built-in support system that comes with a full-time place of employment. That’s what Work It Brooklyn is designed for, to gather these people into a night of “productive debauchery.” Since the event is a forum to create partnerships, share ideas and network like crazy, we asked co-founder Briana Campbell to give 7 key tips so you can make the most of the next Work It at Brooklyn Winery Aug. 31.
Since it’s been a while since we’ve all worked it, we wanted to share a few tips on how to make the most of your networking evening at the winery (and future networking events) — from what to bring to how much to drink. Test your skills at in the courtyard of Brooklyn Winery in Williamsburg on Wednesday from 7 to 10pm.
1. Have a game plan
Every person attending a networking event has their own agenda. Make sure you know yours and you stick to it. It doesn’t matter whether you are there to raise funds for a new film, to meet some fellow artists in hope of finding shared studio space, to hire someone to work on your website, to meet a few like-minded people that you could lean on from time to time. Know why you’re attending and keep that in mind.
2. Bring business cards
This seems pretty obvious, but you’d be amazed at how many people don’t have any on them when it comes time to exchange. Of course, in the smartphone age, services like Hashable and apps like Bump! are handy tools as well. Whatever you do, get the info of any person you want to speak with further – and make sure they have yours. Pro tip: have a pen handy and make a notation about the person on their card. This will help you remember the conversation the next day.
3. Know your pitch
We start our Work It Brooklyn events with speed networking, so this tip will come in especially handy for Wednesday night, but it’s applicable for pretty much any networking situation. In my business, we call it an elevator pitch: You’re in an elevator of an office building/hotel/wherever when your dream employer/venture capitalist/etc. steps on. How would you sell yourself in two minutes?
4. Don’t be “the drunk guy/gal”
At a professional organization meetup I attended the other evening, there was a drunk guy. At 7pm on a Truesday, he was heckling the speaker. At 7:10 he was falling asleep on the girl seated next to him. By 7:45, after heckling some more and stumbling about, he was escorted out by one of the meetup organizers. By the time he left, there were tons of tweets about him, a hashtag and someone had made a Twitter handle (yeah, it was a nerdy event). But the poor guy had gone there looking for a job. I’m fairly certain that’s something that’s not going to happen. Moral? Whatever you do – don’t be “that” guy.
5. Talk to people
Ditch the friend you walked in with and start talking to people you don’t know. The people you already know have got your back already. This is a time for meeting new people and making new connections, to see if there is someone you can help or who can maybe help you.
6. Be on the move
It’s way too easy to get stuck talking to one person for a long time. If you really hit it off with someone and want to talk more, that’s awesome: exchange business cards and get in touch with them to carry on the conversation at a later date and then excuse yourself to speak to someone else. You want to make sure that you make as many connections as possible before we leave.
7. Follow up
At any networking event, you’ll shake tons of hands an collect a pocketful of business cards. Work It Brooklyn is no different. If you meet someone that you’d like to speak with further, don’t wait for them to contact you. Take the initiative and make the first move. Get in touch with them. The next day. This isn’t dating, guys. There’s no “three day rule” in play.
Follow Briana: @msmatchgirl.