5 Ways to Bump Up Your EQ and Why it Matters to your Job SearchFebruary 15, 2016
Summer Job Search TipsJune 15, 2016
The term wingman as it’s often used today refers to a man who tries to help his friend get a date. But what about using a wingman (or a wingwoman) in a networking situation? What would that look like?
Of course, a wingman isn’t for everyone. Some people are completely at ease in a room full of strangers.
But, even the most Kim Kardashian-like confidence in working a room can take a hit, especially if you’ve been recently laid off.
If it’s been a while since you’ve donned a “Hi, My Name is” sticker, you may be worried that you’ll laugh too loud, lean in too closely, or forget your elevator speech entirely.
Enter, the Wingman.
The Buddy System
First, choose a friend from your industry to go with you to an upcoming event. Someone confident, but not cocky. A natural-born communicator is always nice to have as your partner, and someone who enjoys networking events as well. The last thing you want to be worried about is entertaining your own wingman.
Sometimes all you need is one familiar, friendly face in the room to help you relax…a friendly person who’s outgoing and has a great rapport with others.
When deciding who would be best to perform this function, look for the following criteria:
- Confidence — You don’t need another person who is apprehensive about approaching others. Look for someone who is comfortable starting a conversation. But beware: Don’t choose that overly self-satisfied guy whose persona borders on arrogance. This is about you, not about him!
- Proven Track Record — Someone who has been in the business for a while and knows the ins and outs of networking events and how to (proverbially) work a room.
- Reliability — If one of your colleagues is bright and fun, but a little flaky, think twice before extending the invitation. If you take the time and the trouble to prepare for the event only to have her text her regrets while you’re on the Metro, you may not willingly go to a networking event any time in the near future.
Once you’ve chosen your most likely candidate, go over with him specifics of how he can help you.
- Avoid Wardrobe Malfunctions — Especially if you are both women, you don’t want to end up wearing the same thing, or worse, having one of you be overdressed or underdressed. You want your wingman to look professional, and you want to be the standout — but in a good way!
- Share Your Goals — What do you hope to accomplish at this event? Ideally, you want to get some contacts — names, emails, phone numbers. But if this is your first dip back into the pool and you’re extremely nervous, you may want to adjust your expectations to be more realistic. If you’re a first-timer, tell yourself you’ll:
- Participate in at least three conversations.
- Start one yourself.
- Collect at least five business cards.
You can always move on to something harder next time.
- Practice some conversations — Don’t just assume your wingman will know what to say. Starting — or getting into — a dialogue at an event is key. Once your wingman gets a conversation going, he or she can invite you into it. Tell the wingman ahead of time what accomplishments and areas of expertise you would like to highlight, and he or she can take the discussion in that direction. Have you written a new blog? Been published in a news article? Recently completed a new certification? Give your wingman all the details before the event, so he can attempt to magically work them into the conversation.
Once you get going, it’s likely you’ll navigate your way through this with ease. It’s the starting that can be difficult.
A few events with a wingman will get you back into practice, and you will eventually and effortlessly slip into networking mode.
Take a look at these other tips for getting the most out of attending industry conferences and events.