How To Network And Do It Right
Networking doesn't come easy to everyone. It can be easy to excuse yourself from networking events and avoid the awkward introductions and half empty cheese plate. Especially when there's Netflix. We know! Small talk can be uncomfortable, and in a situation where you are trying to sell yourself and your expertise, talking about yourself can be uncomfortable as well. Luckily for you, we have created a list of five powerful tricks you can use to make networking a lot less uncomfortable and a whole lot more effective.
So, get to it! Your next job could be depending on it.
Bring a friend!
Although the thought of bringing a friend to a networking event may seem unnatural, the truth is, no one will know your friend isn't there to network themselves. Of course you will want to bring a friend who is capable of functioning well in a professional environment, but studies show that having a friend or a familiar face with you at events like this can help to ease tensions and anxieties immensely. When tensions and anxieties are at bay, that is when our best qualities shine through, and we are able to engage in meaningful and effective conversations. So, the next time there is a networking invitation you typically would turn down, grab a friend, and see where the night takes you.
It can be so easy to enter a professional atmosphere and forget who you really are. You might find yourself talking differently, and second guessing everything you say. Don't! When you are able to show your true authentic self, people are more inclined to like you and trust you. Be genuine and engage in conversations with an honest and open mind. Nobody likes a performer, unless you're in the theatre.
Go To More Networking Events!
Okay, so this might seem like a no-brainer, but the truth is, the more networking events you attend, the better you get at working them. As is the case with most things, when you become familiar and comfortable with networking, it becomes easier and less intimidating. Get your calendar out and plan to go to at least three networking events in a given month. Make sure to engage with people at these events, and we guarantee that by the following month, attending these events will feel like second nature.
Put Your Phone Away!
It's hard to think of a time when our phones aren't in our hands, or in our pockets. If you're one of those people who doesn't even realize how much you are on your phone, then we highly recommend leaving it in the car or at home. Going to a social event and staring at the screen of your phone makes people think that you're not only anti-social, but also easily distracted. Furthermore, if a potential employer or colleague is there, they don't want to envision you as someone who wastes valuable time checking out your Instagram or texting with friends. It is important to appear and be present. After all, you could have easily stayed at home and answered texts or emails. Show that you are capable of focusing on the task at hand.
Prepare Some Questions and Conversation Starters!
While it is important to converse naturally and not follow a strict agenda at networking events, it can also be highly beneficial to prepare some questions and conversation starters. Taking the initiative shows excellent leadership and communication skills, so having some ideas up your sleeve is key. You will want to focus your questions and comments on something related to the industry you're in. Ask the person you're talking to about their career journey, or how they ended up in a specific company. People love to talk about themselves, and this provides you with a way to develop a positive connection.