Networking events can be challenging at the best of times, but especially so when you’re the only woman in the room. It can feel like every set of eyes is on you, watching and scrutinizing everything you do and say.
As 7 Mile Advisors’ Ariail Barker points out in this episode of Deal Us In: “I'm still not seeing myself reflected in a lot of the other banks that I am coming across at networking events. So it does add an additional ‘eek’ factor (for lack of a better word) going into some of these networking events, because it just feels that much more intimidating.”
Rather than shrinking into a corner of the room to avoid standing out, do your homework and have a plan going into the networking event.
Don’t let a lack of confidence hold you back, says podcast guest Northstar’s Managing Director Rebekah Elliot. “It's cliche, but fake it till you make it and become that person you want to talk to at a networking event,” she says.
If you’ve ever felt like you could be better at networking listen to this episode to uncover tips and tricks you can use to feel more confident at networking events.
Name: Rebekah Elliott
What she does: As a Managing Director at Northstar, Rebekah is responsible for creating, implementing and measuring the success of their marketing and event strategies. She is a strong marketing professional with a MBA focused in Business Marketing, Statistics & Brand Management from University of Pittsburgh - Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business.
Name: Ariail Barker
What she does: As the Director, Sales & Marketing at 7 Mile Advisors, Ariail is responsible for building a centralized business development team, increasing private equity coverage, and updating the overall brand and marketing strategy.
Where to find her: LinkedIn
Top takeaways from this episode
● Do your homework — before an event. With so much digital information available, you can gather instruments to use to build a rapport quickly and move on to what you really want to talk about.
● Put the safety blanket down. When you walk into a room and you see someone in the corner on their phone, especially women, they come across as unapproachable. Even if you’re uncomfortable, find ways of signaling to others at the event that you’re open to talking and avoid giving the impression that you don’t want to be there.
● You don’t have to be the “fun killer” or the flirt. If you’re the only woman in the room, you’re already interesting and are more closely scrutinised than anyone else. You can build really strong relationships without being the “fun killer” who doesn’t want to take a shot with the guys or playing up your sexuality.
[06:24] Don’t get hung up on building rapport: While building rapport is important, Rebekah advises not to spend too much time trying to get someone to talk about their personal life — balance that with the business topics.
[08:23] Project confidence, even if you don’t feel it: Rebekah wasn’t always a great networker, she had to fake the confidence she saw in other networkers at events until she actually felt confident. Rebekah’s advice is to get out of your head, don’t focus on your shortcomings, and think more confidently.
[14:32] Steer the conversation to where you need it to go: You have a finite amount of time to get the information you need so if the conversation is heading in a direction that isn’t beneficial to you, change the direction. Find a stepping stone in the conversation that will help you have the conversation you need to have.
[27:18] Get the ball rolling: Rebekah always asks open ended questions that start with: if, how, when or what. These aren’t simple yes or no questions and it also creates the opportunity to ask other questions off the back of their answer.
[32:40] Make a To-Do list: Informal networking events can be hard, there’s no format to follow so Rebekah suggests making a To-Do list. By creating a structure, you can see what you need to accomplish and what research you need to do beforehand.
[37:18] Alcohol not required: Networking events that stretch into dinner and after-dinner drinks can be tricky. Rebekah’s advice is to quietly ask the barman or waiter to only bring you mocktails. You're still engaged but it also helps you to navigate any minefields.
✔️ Thank you for joining us at the table for this episode of Deal Us In. We invite you to join the conversation by using our #Dealusinpodcast on Twitter or LinkedIn.
✔️ If you have questions about today’s conversation, please feel free to reach out to Molly White at firstname.lastname@example.org or Ariail Barker at email@example.com.
✔️ Don’t miss another episode! Subscribe in your preferred podcast app.
✔️ If you have a recommendation for an inspiring interviewee, a question you'd like us to ask, or a topic you would like to hear covered, or if you'd like to tell us about women-focused initiatives in the field, please go to our website. We look forward to hearing from you.
This podcast was recorded and is being made available by McGuireWoods for informational purposes only. By accessing this podcast, you acknowledge that McGuireWoods makes no warranty, guarantee or representation as to the accuracy or sufficiency of the information featured in the podcast. The views, information or opinions expressed during this podcast series are solely those of the individuals involved and do not necessarily reflect those of McGuireWoods. This podcast should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state and should not be construed as an offer to make or consider any investment or course of action.