Starbucks Can Help Your Networking Skills

Good networking is an acquired skill. And just like any acquired skill, practice makes perfect.  In a business development class, i was told that networking is like farming; you have to cultivate your relationships over time. Some people try to treat networking like they are hunting; they go after the biggest kill and hope what they catch will last them all season. You have to continuously go out in different climates and terrains to really perfect your networking skill. Networking can seem scary and intimidating for even
the most seasoned professionals. You can’t just expect to walk into a networking event and own the room, unless you have practiced and learned from your mistakes. One place I use as my networking practicing ground is Starbucks. Starbucks is as close as you can get to a industry networking event without paying and completely ruining your reputation if you fail. Next time you go to Starbucks, get a great Chai Tea Latte and follow these tips to enhance your networking and selling skills.

1. Don’t Always Sit Alone
Do you feel awkward when you have to share a table with someone? Don’t. Think of this as the first step when you enter a networking event. Break the ice, ask to sit down, and join the crowd. I know that sometimes you need your privacy or want a quiet corner to work, but every now and again, switch it up and make small talk with other Starbuckers. Sitting with others can help ease the tension you feel when you enter a crowded room of
strangers.

2. Talk to Other Regulars
If you are a Starbucks regular like me, make sure you are observant and interact with other regulars. I noticed this one girl always studying the same time I was. One evening I sat with her and found out we were both studying for the GRE and interested in the same program. We studied several times together after that. We don’t study together anymore, but if we end up in the same program, I have a conversation starter and potential ally.

3. Always Have Your Business Cards
It never looks good when you’re at a networking event and you don’t have your business cards. Your business cards are as essential as your name tag. Get in the habit of always carrying your business cards with you. A guy I was sitting next to one day over heard me talking about PR said he was in need of some consulting. I passed him my card and he ending up becoming/staying a great connection for me.

4. Dress to Impress
You don’t have to wear your best 3-piece suit to Starbucks, but if you often frequent the same one, try to look nice somedays. Starbucks is mixed with so many different types of professionals, that you never know who you will run into. And remember, just because you don’t see someone doesn’t mean they don’t see you. If you are looking for a job, your potential interviewer could be sitting across from you watching you come in day after
day in your dirty sweats.

If you follow these tips you will get into the habit of being prepared to always sell yourself or your brand. Afterall, that’s what networking is; selling yourself to potential clients and partners and then building and maintaining relationships.  Use these simple tips and then see how your networking skills evolve.

Images via google.com

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