Five ways to network

betty ming liu Writing how-to's 7 Comments

This has been my summer for schmoozing! I need to be out there because we have a rotten economy that’s forcing us all to become more entrepreneurial. With that in mind, I am on a mission to forge connections that will build a supportive community for my work.

So far, it’s been fun — unlike the drudgery of the pre-Internet days.

Making initial connections has gotten easier. The process is also less expensive. And everyone is definitely more creative. Here’s what I’m learning:

Schmooze Tip #1: MeetUp.com is a solid resource.

This national website offers a revolving calendar of events. Start by choosing your topics of interest and geographic parameters — e.g., would you travel 25 miles for an activity, or 100 miles? Patient sifting through the junk and clutter can lead to discovering appealing options.

After checking out the playdate meetup for unleashed small dogs and a local hiking club, I decided on my first-ever meetup: A summer social sponsored by New York-based members of the Online News Association.

The meetup was at the Sky Room (330 W. 40th St.) Getting in was free; we paid for our drinks. It took me a while to get into mingling at this rooftop lounge near Times Square. Thankfully, most people were friendly so it was worth attending. I also liked the palm trees.

There were duel meetups on the roof last night, each with very different crowds. In addition to ONA, the Wall Street traders were gathering — which explained the presence of too-tan women in too-high heels, wearing too little clothes.

Staying on the ONA side, I spent two pleasant hours talking shop about e-publishing, reporting trends and online marketing. I also learned that porn stars who don’t have tattoos command higher salaries — the ultimate useful information.  :)

At the Online News Association meetup with co-host Eddie Vega of eVegaOnline.com & Gregg Sullivan of SullivanAndPartners.com

Facebook can be helpful.

Schmooze Tip #2:  Facebook works!  

Facebook found me a new part-time teaching gig. It was posted by people who are friends with my friend, “48 Hours” producer Paul LaRosa.

After he emailed me the contact info, I moved on to back-and-forth emails with my new future boss. Within 24 hours, our discussions were complete. By the way, even though Paul and I used to work together at the News, we hardly knew each other then. Somehow, a decade later, we friended on Facebook and started chatting away.  :)

Today's business cards stand out.

Schmooze Tip #3: Printed business cards still matter.

Even tech-savvy players whip out business cards. Not plain vanilla throwaways but jazzy numbers with colored borders, distinctive images and design-y elements.

The most interesting ones are printed on heavy stock. Some are odd-sized rectangles and squares. Others have information on both sides.

Schmooze Tip #4: Personal gestures still count too.  

My favorite schmoozing gurus say that forging personal relationships are still measured by the old gold standards. Can the chatting lead to a one-on-one drink, dinner or lunch? Sending and receiving handwritten notecards will always be a classy touch. But following people on Twitter is also useful. Between the mix of old and new, there are plenty of alternative.

Schmooze Tip #5: Join some organizations and pace yourself. 

I’ve recently started joining professional organizations. The membership fees are cost-conscious values ($40 and up) and I can write them off on my taxes. All the groups offer both annual conventions and smaller events during the year.

My dance card currently features memberships in ONA, South Asian Journalists Association (SAJA) and Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA). (Note: These groups welcome folks of all races.) I have one other membership:  OCA-NY, which is an organization founded by Chinese Americans. Over the next few months, I’ll be expanding into more organizations that vibe with other passions in my life.

Now, I’m looking at a fall calendar featuring interesting events and conversations. There’s no excuse for sitting home and feeling like a lonely loser. From now on, my mission is to get outta the house.

And here’s one more shot, taken during the AAJA convention in Detroit.  :)

Hanging out with: Helen Zia (author/activist/journalist); Paul Anger (Detroit Free Press editor/publisher) & me; Roland Hwang (American Citizens for Justice vp/attorney)

 

Comments 7

  1. Post
    Author

    oops! i somehow temporarily closed the comments section to this post. but as you can see, we’re in business now. would love to get some of your thoughts on networking….

    it’s been a long time since i’ve done this sort of professional schmoozing so anything else you can add would be great. i’m also torn on the fancy business card issue. do you think it’s an important investment? at the moment, i’m not sure it’s that crucial.

  2. Ok. I will be the first one. No matter where you are at in your career, everyone should be doing this. In addition to Facebook, LinkedIn works well too.

    People should stay in touch not only to forge associations that may lead to future opportunity irked, but also stay on top of trends. In our online world, things change sooooo fast. Just a couple of years ago, did we think there would be iPads, or what about the rise of social media? Go schmooze!

    On a personal note, Betty, hope your are batting down the hatches. Please take care this weekend!

  3. Crappy auto correct! I meant “opportunities” not opportunity irked. I guess if you have a missed opportunity, then that would irk you. :)

  4. Post
    Author

    jackie, thanks for being today’s #1 — and for pointing out the importance of tracking trends.

    speaking of linkedin i am a latecomer to its charms but now i’m hooked. it’s really important to fill out your entire profile. once i did that, i started getting regular email alerts from linked in about the latest trends in education, with links to tons of cool info.

    and thanks for your concern about the approaching hurricane. i am in the ‘burbs, where we are worried about flooding due to heavy rain. so i’m nervous about my basement. but i’ve taken on floods here before; experience will hopefully count for something! xo

  5. Post
    Author

    what, y’all don’t want to talk about networking? of course, the hot topic this minute is the approach of hurricane irene. this has been a crazy week for new yorkers. first, the earthquake. now, the hurricane. yes, i’m worried. but let’s not panic.

    so i went to my local farmers market this morning. and it was very inspiring to be there with the farmers. one of them told me that there’s nothing you can do about the elements anyway. life goes on.

    here’s the view from the local market. http://on.fb.me/rljif2

  6. Business cards are a definite YES, even if most people throw them out soon after the event. (I save mine in a shoebox marked “Business Cards” so I don’t get them confused with the boxes of graduate school research cards.) Giving a business card is like saying, “I trust you with my information.” When someone does not offer a card or has no card to offer, a moment of social unease may follow, followed again by a mad dash for a cocktail napkin and a pen.

    1. Post
      Author

      i save business cards too, eddie. and thanks for pointing out so vividly the reason for having a card. it really is revealing when someone doesn’t have a card or doesn’t carry cards. i guess it can mean different things. in my case, my card-less days right after the divorce — when i wasn’t working — was a time of very low self-confidence. and finally making cards was a sign that i was feeling good about myself again. :)

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