Jennifer Mellon is the Co-Founder and President of Trustify, the world’s first technology platform to connect clients across the U.S. with a network of highly trained and qualified private investigators. She lives in Washington, DC with her husband and Trustify Co-Founder and CEO, Danny Boice, and their five children. Follow her @JenMellon.
Recently, YEC spoke with Jennifer about her experiences networking and her advice for others aspiring to improve their own experience. Her best advice is below.
Carry Business Cards
So many people are moving away from the old-school paper business cards. Share your card whenever you meet someone new and ask for theirs. Business cards and a Rolodex are the easiest way to connect with anyone anywhere to build a professional network.
Don’t Underestimate the Power of Persistence
In 2001, when I was an undergraduate student at Bucknell, I attended an alumni career panel. I reached out to one of the presenters afterward and stayed in touch through graduation. Although she did not have an opening to hire me years later, she created a position due to my diligence. Two years later, I because the youngest Executive Director of one of the largest international child welfare organizations due to that contact.
The most successful networkers put themselves out there at every opportunity. They recognize that the best professional connections can come in untraditional means in everyday circumstances. The contacts you may meet a friend’s wedding, your child’s preschool or backyard party may be one that changes your professional life forever.
Never Turn Down a Personal Invitation
Go to everything you are personally invited to. If people believed you would enjoy or benefit from an event and ask personally for your attendance, go! Those events already guarantee that you will have one connection to help make introductions. You can easily network from there on a personal level, broadening the scope of your professional network.
I am a big believer in asking lots of questions of others. No one really cares that much about what I do. People like to share about themselves and they remember people who go out of their way to learn about them. It is a lost art of conversation. I find that entrepreneurs especially are so passionate about their own personal ventures that they can dominate a conversation with their new product, startup or round of raising. It can come off as “selling” and make others not want to continue the conversation.
Create a System That Works for You
I have had the unfortunate experience of introducing myself early on in my career to individuals I had already met. I learned early to work as diligently as possible in remembering others names and faces. When it escapes me and I am not confident whether I have met an individual or not, I say “it’s great to see you” instead of “it’s nice to meet you.” Either way, you are covered and no one is uncomfortable!
I also save every business card and keep them on file. I’m old school, much to the chagrin of my co-founder and husband. I find this to be a much easier way to remember who I met and when. It also serves as a tangible reminder to follow up with them once back at my desk via email.