Do you find forced networking events extremely awkward and uncomfortable? Despite being a social person, I still get shivers at the thought of overly aggressive business men and women elbowing each other to the front of a conference room to exchange business cards with a certain someone. Instead, I prefer a more natural approach when making connections and I’m sure many of you feel the same way. Well, I realized that there’s an unexpected tool that helps spark conversation painlessly: statement jewelry.
Jewelry is already something women often compliment each other on, so it’s a natural way to start a conversation. Statement pieces can help establish connections by either someone complimenting you (major!) or you complimenting someone else. You cannot always guarantee that someone will compliment your jewels, so let’s start with complimenting someone else.
When Someone Else Is Wearing a Statement Piece
First, know everyone loves receiving compliments. It’s an instant feel-good and you don’t need to feel awkward or pushy by giving a compliment. How great did it make you feel the last time you received a compliment? Exactly! It will feel the same way for the person you are trying to chat with.
Still, have questions prepared! In order to keep a conversation going, it’s essential to have open-ended questions ready to go (any questions that require an answer besides “yes” or “no”). For example, you can ask where the piece came from. This can lead to a conversation about travel – maybe she picked up her beautiful turquoise ring at a flea market in Mexico. What brought her to Mexico? Business? Boom! Easy networking!
Remember, jewelry is personal. A conversation around jewelry allows you to learn about this business maven on a personal level instantly. This gives you a one-up when continuing the conversation offline. You can follow up by saying, “I read this great article on Mexico and thought you’d be interested in reading it.” It’s a great way to capture your potential connection’s attention on a personal level, and it helps you stand out in her mind amongst all the other people she met during that conference.
Show off your attention to detail. While everyone else at the conference is worrying about how to present themselves, you’re focused on the little details of how your connection presents herself and what might be important to her. It will be clear that you pick up on the little things. Have you ever read a job description where attention to detail was not important? Probably not. So this is huge.
When You’re Wearing a Statement Piece
Even better for networking is when a piece of statement jewelry brings the compliment to you. You’ve already captured someone’s attention, but it’s still important to be prepared when the “oohs” and “aahs” come your way.
Have a story prepared. Instead of simply accepting the compliment and saying, thank you, try to figure out a way to bring the conversation to something you’re interested in. If you’re interested in fashion, you can explain how you picked up the pair of pearls after reading the latest trend report from Women’s Wear Daily. On a basic level, this shows that you follow industry news and proves that you’re on top of trends. These attributes show value to the person you are trying to network with. However, perhaps you’re not interested in fashion at all. This brings me to the second point…
Wear the right piece, make the right statement. In order to tell the right story, it’s important to wear the right piece of jewelry. For instance, if you’re interested in sustainable business practices, rock a bracelet by a designer who uses recycled materials. By describing the piece as sustainable you can make an easy transition into your passion for sustainable business practices. With a little research (a k a shopping!) you can find the right piece that speaks to your interests.
This is your opportunity to show off. If it’s too far of a stretch to find the right statement piece that correlates to your industry, simply associate the statement with a gift you received after you aced an industry exam or something of the like. This is the ideal opportunity to show your strengths while you already have increased attention on your personal brand. Exude your passion in a way that helps you make connections. You’ve got it!
The bottom line is that while you’re at a conference swimming in a sea of black pencil skirts and blazers, a statement jewelry piece will exude confidence, help you stand out in the crowd, and allow you to spark a natural conversation. The end result is a helpful, natural connection. The best part? It’s a great excuse to start shopping!
P.S. My personal go-to statement gem: The Renegade Bracelet by Stella & Dot layered with my watch. It’s an instant conversation starter!