Nicole Smartt is the owner of Star Staffing. She is the youngest recipient to be awarded the 40 Under 40 award, recognizing business leaders under the age of 40. Her book, “From Receptionist to Boss: Real-Life Advice for Getting Ahead at Work,” can be pre-ordered on her website, www.nicolesmartt.com. Follow her @Nicole_Smartt.
Recently, YEC spoke with Nicole about her experiences networking, and her advice for others aspiring to improve their own experience. Her best advice is below.
Be True to Who You Are From the Start
Remain authentic: don’t try to play a role. Stay true to your values. Be honest and transparent in your communication. Speak clearly, confidently and from the heart. Building strong relationships starts with strong communication.
Building your network as early as possible helps so much later in life. It makes your job easier. When you have a larger, diverse network, you’re able to pull from it. In my job, my network has helped me bring in new clients each week without a sales pitch. It has also helped me create stronger relationships and has helped me win awards. The time invested in building and nurturing your network will pay off big time.
Remain Positive, No Matter the Circumstance
Positivity is one of the most important markers for happy, effective, productive people. Positivity doesn’t mean everything is going great; often it’s just the opposite. But having a positive attitude from which to operate is essential to success. Positivity helps you work from a solution-finding position. Related to positivity is confidence, which reduces strain on your coworkers, family and friends. Positivity helps us become energized and empowered, qualities that are essential to getting in front of a problem and making a difference.
Build Connections in Your Own Backyard
Start by becoming a leader in your local community: join the local chamber of commerce, or join the board of a local nonprofit organization. You need both face-to-face and social media interactions to be at the top of your game. Each platform will help you achieve greatness and take your career to new heights with the right plan.
Never be afraid to take notes to help build your connections with people. I write salient details on the back of business cards people hand me, and I do it pretty quickly. If people don’t hand me a card, it’s a little tricky. As soon as I’m done talking to them, I pull out my phone, and in my Notes app on my iPhone I write down their name and unique details about them, and then I’ll search for their names on LinkedIn or Google in order to find their e-mail address.
Keep Chatter About Yourself to a Minimum
Remember that people love to talk about themselves. The point of networking is to get to know other people. By asking them questions, you’re showing that you care. People love this.
My intentions for networking events: Connect with people. Gather information. Connect them with other people. Be remembered. There may be an easy connection I can make that takes two seconds. How quick is that? One of the easiest ways to gain people’s loyalty is to connect them with people they need to know. That’s my goal.
My biggest faux pas is talking the entire time. You are there to learn about other people. The more you know about others, the more you can help and the better you can customize your pitch.