With Lily Ting
The Strength Coach
Networking isn’t everyone’s idea of fun, but putting yourself out there is the best way to find new opportunities. Lily Ting, the WIP Strength Coach answered some questions from the WIP community about how they should approach networking to present themselves in the best way. Lily shared how to pitch, when to pitch and how to get the best out of every interaction.
Q: I hate networking, what can I do to get myself out there?
A: Try a being a tag team! “Go to an event with another person, and work on introducing each other instead of only introducing yourself,” Lily suggests. “It is much easier to approach a conversation as a pair, and you are more likely to get people approaching you as a group of two. Work together to keep the conversation lively and people will come to you.
Q: What mindset should you go into a networking opportunity/ conference with?
A: “Firstly, only go to events that interest you,” Lily says. “It makes sense to go events that are in your area of comfort. You don’t need to be an expert, but interested in the topic of the event is the first hurdle.” Think of an event like a movie, you wouldn’t go to watch a Marvel movie if you hate action heroes right? So your interest comes first, and the networking comes second. This way you are not going to an event solely to sell yourself, you are going in with a curiosity mindset, which makes the experience much easier.
Q: If I’ve just met someone, should I launch into my elevator pitch straight away?
A: Start with small talk! Then ask people about themselves first to ensure you don’t go down a small talk spiral. From there you should naturally get an opportunity to introduce who you are. Of course the first part your introduction is biographical - your name and maybe where you are from. But remember to include what you do, and why you do it.
When you introduce yourself, you need to be authentic, with the words that are a true representation of you. Lily uses the example of a client that began her pitch ‘I am happy to be in Hong Kong’. “Straight away, the words didn’t sound true,” Lily says. Lily advised her to reframe this to ‘I am learning to find my way in Hong Kong.’, which was true. This resonated more strongly with the audience, as people could understand where she was coming from.
Q: Uh… what is the pitch supposed to be about?
A: The pitch is the value of what you offer, not how you do the thing. During the pitch, get specific about what you have done - people like to grab onto clear, tangible facts. “A pitch is a way to differentiate yourself,” says Lily. “You don’t want to tell the same story as another person who does a similar job as you. You want to say something that helps people to remember your uniqueness.”
Q: What’s an ideal number of connections to make at a networking event?
A: “We should stop thinking of networking like a numbers game,” says Lily. “Networking is the first step to building relationships, and when it comes to relationships focus on quality not quantity!” Part of networking should be wanting to appear helpful and open to providing introduction to others. “It may not directly benefit you, but it shows that your network is open to collaborate through you,” says Lily. Being open to opportunities is a better approach to networking, not counting how many business cards you collected. Lily advises that we use the following mantra: ‘I want to meet people and hear what they do’.
Q: How do you get away from a conversation?
A: Lily recommends being honest. “Saying that you’re going to get a drink, or go to the bathroom to get away is so obvious. If you have been chatting for awhile and the conversation is winding up, say ‘this has been a great conversation, thank you! It was nice to speak to you and I’ll see you again!” People understand! If you are in a conversation for long time and people are nearby, invite them to join the conversation. That way if you want to leave, you are not leaving anyone alone. But again be honest! After every connection, make sure you follow up. “Reach out to say you would to stay in touch in the future, even if you are not planning on working with them anytime soon,” advises Lily.
Assume that you won’t get immediate results from a networking event, but being open to meeting people and growing your connections may serve you in the future. Remember, networking doesn’t come naturally to most people, so take your time to find events that interest you, and rope in a like-minded friend to come with you to the first few. Eventually your pitch will feel more comfortable after practice and the opportunities will follow!
So, grab some business cards and get out there!
After a extensive career as a recruiter and Deputy General Manager at the French Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, Lily began coaching in 2008. She helps clients to craft their most authentic story, enabling them to present themselves with maximum impact.