Networking effectively is a vital skill for a young professional, in any industry. Whether you're killing it getting coffee for someone getting paid way more than you, Jennifer Lawrence (sigh), or a recent college grad - you HAVE to know how to be able to walk into a room and make sure everybody knows a little something about you by the time you leave.
So, as a female there's a few ways to accomplish this. If you're a Tara Reid type, you could probably make this happen by getting wasted and having an "accidental" nip slip. If you'd like to leave a more positive, professional taste in people's mouths, then you don't want to rely on booze and your boobs.
Ladies have a fine line to walk between coming across as likeable and warm, but also professional at the same time. The key to how to network effectively is to make a genuine connection and leave the right impression; that you're a useful, interesting, well connected person that other's NEED to know. So if you want to brush up on your networking skills, here are the top ten ways to keep your flirty side in check without coming across like an ice queen:
1. Dress like you're going to your grandmother's baptism
We're the generation of crop tops, but there's a time and a place. So in professional situations it is always best to err on the side of being too conservative. Absolutely no cleavage, and if somebody can see your Britney when you bend over in your skirt then it's time to start shopping at stores that don't have a section just for thongs.
2. Learn to master the perfect amount of eye contact
One of the first things people tell you in the real world is "always make eye contact." Here's the kicker: too much eye contact with a man can make it seem like you're flirting. You could be talking balance sheets or about your most recent team building trip, but if you're making lots of direct eye contact while you smile it comes across as flirting. So make eye contact, but don't hold your stare so long that you look like you're mentally undressing the person across from you. Even if they're hot.
3. Don't get wasted
Just as networking is a universal skill, drinking is a universal networking tool. They should do a study about how many interviews and job offers originated with business cards being exchanged at a happy hour. This may seem like a no brainer, but whether it's a company Christmas party or an industry-wide charity event, don't be the girl that can't hold their liquor. I don't need to tell you that drunk girls = flirty girls. Stick to a two drink max and then switch to soda and put a lime in it. Surprise! It looks like a vodka soda, but handily prevents slurring and hooking up with losers.
4. Give a firm handshake
Nothing says "I mean business" more than giving a guy one of the firmest handshakes he's ever felt. Guys expect girls to give them a limp hand, show them you're an equal by giving them an equally hard handshake. Side note: sweaty palms are always a bad look, keep 'em dry.
5. Always have an "elevator speech"
You know when you're in an elevator and the person with you introduces you to somebody else in the elevator so then you have like 11.2 seconds to give them a blurb about yourself? That's called an elevator speech, and corporate peeps love them. Having a few sentences prepared about yourself that relays who you are AND what you do makes you seem well-spoken and to the point. Guys often expect young women to ramble, show them you can talk about yourself without giggling and stuttering like a flirty school girl behind the bleachers at a football game.
6. Know who you're talking to
You know when you're on a date and you let something slip that lets your date know you googled them? And how that's really, really bad? Well, when it comes to a networking event, au contraire, knowing the person you're talking to is a big plus. Successful people love it when you show you've done your research, it proves you weren't just at the networking event to mooch off the open bar and go husband shopping (even if that's partly why you're there, sorry, not sorry).
7. Never start a story "this one time in college..."
Just because other people may be telling stories about the time they got wasted and woke up at a gas station after making out with the sax player from the party, doesn't mean you should too. First impressions are huge, so don't be the "gas station makeout" girl, be the "she's bilingual" girl or the "she's the entrepreneur" girl.
8. Don't be last (wo)man standing
It's easy when you're schmoozing to let time fly by, but don't be the last girl at the bar or event. As your wise mother probably once told you, nothing good happens after 10pm, and she's right. Leave on the earlier side and on a good note, there's nothing to gain by sticking it out. Unless you're looking to hook up with the bartender.
9. Spread the love
Often in the corporate world there can be more males than females in senior roles. But that doesn't mean you should pay more attention to the males. There is nothing that pisses off a woman in a senior role more than seeing a young girl working it with all the men in the room and ignoring potentially great mentors. Women need ego stroking too.
10. Be invisible
Spoiler alert: everything you put on the internet can be viewed by a potential employer. Don't be the flirt with a million drinking pictures of you dressed like a "mouse" for Halloween. Unless you're trying to network your way into Playboy this will not get you hired. It will just make you look like a party girl who will be the life of the company Christmas party. Lock that sh*t down.
This article was written by Dagney Pruner. Follow her on Twitter @dagneyp