Fashion Night Out 2012: Network Your Way to Success!

Three little words have emerged on to the fashion scene with ubiquitous fame. Yes, I could only be referring to “Fashion’s Night Out.”

All over the world, Thursday the 6th of September is going down in history as the annual evening when editors, celebrities, models, designers and fashionistas unite in the name of shopping.

This year, London’s FNO is where the city’s fashion elite are competing against one another with one high-heeled objective – who can throw the most talked about event at Fashion’s Night Out. And this year, the stakes are conspicuously high, from a lustrous pink vending machine dispensing limited edition Chanel products on Bond Street to a street party along King Street hosted by Open Ceremony to the Burlington Arcade’s ‘Night at the Circus’ theme, all of which promises quite a spectacle. As part of the celebrations, a host of labels will be unveiling special, one-off products, showcasing their collections early or offering special discounts. For example, Topshop are feeling generous tonight; every customer entering the store will receive a raffle ticket with a winner drawn every thirty minutes! Tonight is the night to put your haute fashion foot forward and shop until you can physically shop no more.. or until you locate the hottest after-party invite.

While so much of our social life is now communicated through social media, it is time we leave our introvert-influencing Ipads at home and dust off face-to-face networking skills. Tonight, the fashion fantastic will be out in force. If you are working in fashion, this is the most important networking night of the year for you. Here are YCB’s top networking tips to help you spin a web of fashion friends at FNO:

 

1) Know who you don’t know, but want to. 

Vogue.co.uk offers an interactive “Map your Night” feature to help you plan your evening with determined precision. So, your pre-event task is to analyse your relationship map. Is there a specific person or type of person you need to meet?  Maybe an industry expert who knows about selling, buying, PR?  Or the head of procurement at a key prospect in your pipeline?

 

2) Be confident.  

Typically, networking soirees can be a bit of a nightmare… standing in a room filled with tall tables, awkward silences and cheap chardonnay. Tonight is quite the opposite. FNO is the perfect stomping ground to nurture your networking skills back to fruition. With an extravaganza of events, extroverted fashionistas and extreme style, an absence of conversation won’t be possible. This is the ideal scene to bump shoulders and strike up a conversation with your network targets. Here’s where homework will pay off.

 

3) Do your homework. 

It is paramount tonight that you know your story and your audience.  Now that you know where you are going and who you want to meet, get your talking points together. Don’t be too practiced, though. Extemporaneous conversation with touches of polished idioms is the key to social soirees.

 

4) Know what you want to ask, and remember there’s a time and a place.

Another golden rule of networking and indeed, self promotion is the sacred business card. Normally showing up to an industry event without one, is like turning up with no clothes on. For FNO, certainly carry your identity ammunition with you but the objective of the evening is slightly unique. While your target might in networking at the beginning, as the night carries on a glass or two of bubbly may lead to an impromptu Anya Hidnmarch purchase. I ‘m not sure your card wants to be turning up with the receipt tomorrow morning. Nevertheless if you strike a meaningful conversation which leads to a mutual exchange of card capital, or you know this person is in the position to be accepting and retaining your business card, then definitely hand it over and get the goods in return. The aim of the FNO game is to strike up a conversation (about the person or their accomplishments is a great start), so your face logs into their memory bank, get their email address or at least Twitter handle (write these details at your earliest opportunity into your phone) and let them know you will be contacting them.

 

5)     Do what you say you will do – follow up!   

You successfully frolicked with fashion royalty. You worked the FNO circuit profitably because you had a plan, and you executed that plan… and you managed to score that Whistles limited edition dress you have had your eye on. Success. Sure, you were a little nervous before every new encounter, but it got easier as the night progressed. Now, it’s time to act! Contact your new connections a.s.a.p. When networking, the rules of dating do not apply. Don’t wait; follow-up promptly. Be persistent while also being respectful of your new connection’s time. When you contact wildly successful people, you will find that they tend to be pretty vocal about what they want and they are not afraid to ask for help.  Asking for someone’s advice about a topic they know well is a great way to get a conversation started and to form a relationship. It’s pretty cool to have your ask turn into a successful person’s thoughtful input on what they would do if they were in your shoes. As a result, that person you are talking to becomes engaged in your success.

 

Now, put on your favorite shoes, load up your business cards and your PR ammunition and go make some new fashionable friends. Most of all, enjoy yourself, you’re at FNO 2012!

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