The Blog Party was created by Jamie (founder of jforjamie.com) and she created this unique event to give bloggers a chance to mingle and connect with amazing brands, companies in the area, and other bloggers who are looking to widen their network. The Blog Party was hosted at Polyvore HQ and I had a chance to meet and mingle with some of Bay area’s finest bloggers! Not only did we get the sickest swag bag, jam-packed with brands from all over the US (corporate and startups), but I had a chance to tour the Polyvore office and meet some of the lovely faces behind Polyvore. I want to send a huge thank you to Jamie (from The Blog Party) for having me, to all the brands who sponsored, and to Polyvore for a sweet look inside their space. I’ve attached some pictures below (some of which were taken by Nanette of Cultural Chromatics), along with the links to the brands inside the Blog Party Box. Read more below for some tips and tricks that I’ve picked up along the way on how to better network yourself and your brand. As always, If you have suggestions PLEASE leave them in the comments below.
Blog Party Box Sponsors:
Networking Tips – Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way. The most important thing I can say is that while networking is hugely important; always remember to stay true to yourself. Some people that you’ll meet will either be just as nervous as your are or will be complete pros at making connections. But if you are 100% kind and respectful, make great conversation and truly want to hear someone’s story – they will remember you! Know that anyone can go around collecting business cards (I mean don’t you see them thrown on office tables and coffee shops?!) the point of networking is to make incredible connections and possibly friendships. Share your story and know when it’s your turn to listen. No one likes a walking and talking billboard.
Business Cards: As a girl who’s practically grown up with print, I’m always drawn to a beautiful letterpress or UV finish. Now that social media and LinkedIn have literally stepped in place of natural introduction, it’s really nice (and different) to hand someone an actual business card instead of having them look you up online (trust me, no one wants to be Googled as a form of networking connection). Remember that you speak for your brand or company the second you say “Hello” – so if you’re not making an impact in the first 30 seconds, you’re at a loss.
Break the Ice: Typically, people have a hard time creating conversation. For most, it’s a simple “hey, my name is..” but there are times when the awkward silence can definitely come into play. I always like to start with a compliment. Sounds cheesy, but no one is going to turn down your “OMG, those shoes are amazing. Where’d you get them?” or “How packed is it in here. What an awesome place to network, right?” Truth is anyone that straight turns you down for just being nice is probably not going to influence you in any way.
Buddy System: The Buddy System (your friend invited you, vice-versa) is great to network so you’re not standing alone in between conversations, but it can actually hurt you if you’re not willing to step out and make new connections. The key to working the buddy system is to come with someone you know, split during the networking session and then exchange introductions after you’ve mingled a little. “Hey so-and-so this is my friend Jamie and she does this-and-this. You two should exchange business cards!” Your buddy system just earned you a connection you could’ve missed out on!
Elevator Pitch: This is an easy one. Practice saying who you are & what you do in less than 30 seconds. Leave the person wanting more and know how to regain momentum when you’ve finished explaining your story. “Hey! My name is Melissa. I’m a Style Blogger and User Experience designer living in the East Bay. I just moved here 3,000 miles from Tampa, FL.” We now have three things to talk about all of which are easily 5-10 min conversations each!
Dress to Impress: This is self-explanatory, but you will not believe the things I’ve seen. You don’t have to be at a fashion networking event to want to dress nice. I have been to some of the downright-all-over-techy networking events and will always remember the best dressed person in the house. I do it because it says you care about your appearance and that you want to leave a memorable first impression. Better to be over-dressed than under-dressed. Works. Every. Time.
Be Yourself: Another cheesy headline for the books but it serves to be true 100% of the time. People want to know YOU. If they wanted to know your plain-as-day “about me” section they would just go read it in your LinkedIn and be on their merry way. Share things about yourself that make you unique and memorable. Talk about places you’ve traveled, foods you love (everyone loves food) and ASK QUESTIONS. If you spend the entire night talking about your company and not you, you’ll get a whole lot of the glazed-over “send to spam” look from everyone you come into contact with.
The Name Game: This one is so funny and has worked for me – the girl who easily forgets what you JUST said 4 seconds ago. The person says their name and the object of the game is to use it at least 3/4 times so you won’t forget. “Jamie! It’s so nice to meet you, Jamie. My cousin’s wife sister’s best friend is named Jamie so that’ll be easy to remember. So, Jamie, what do you do?” WINNER. If you forget this girl’s name you ought to slap yourself.
Follow-up: The rule of thumb for following up is usually within 1-2 weeks after the event. DO NOT send out emails the night of the event or you will look like a crazy psycho person who has no life. Remember that emails can come across so impersonal if you copy and paste your elevator pitch for every person. Generally, I like to leave the conversation open-ended so I’m more apt to get a response. This usually looks something like, “Jamie! It was so nice meeting you. I loved chatting about those cool vegan recipes. I can’t wait to try them out. Would you happen to have the website you were talking about? I’d love to read more!” Now you’re not only going to get a sweet reply from your cool new contact, but you’ll get their contact information in the reply signature in case you’ve already lost their business card – GUILTY.
Well, there you have it babes. I hope this is somewhat helpful and encourages you to step outside of your comfort zone and gets you to make some amazing connections. CHEERS! xx – M.