Secrets to Networking
There are some people out there who really enjoy networking, but for many of us, this isn’t the case.
Think about it this way: networking is about building relationships. Making the right connections. Creating opportunities for others to see who you are and what you have to offer. For these reasons, networking can bring a lot of positive opportunities to your professional career and your greater life.
Don't underestimate yourself
If you’ve got a pulse and have lived a few rotations around the sun, chances are you have experiences and curiosities that set you apart from others.
Don’t feel like you need to put on airs to be anyone else besides who you are. The best way to start a conversation is just to say hello. From there, ask questions. Instead of getting in your head about what to say next, listen generously. Show interest in others. Go to events and connect with organizations that matter to you. You’ll likely find like-minded people there.
Not all networking events are created equally. It’s not a one-size-fits-all scenario. From speed networking to reaching out to someone you admire on LinkedIn, there are many different kinds of networking to choose from. If you’re feeling chatty, go to a bustling event where you can meet new people. If you want a more personal approach, try reaching out to an inspiring professor who’s given you great feedback on your paper, or a family friend whose career you admire.
Have a game plan
Set yourself a goal. You can start small. If you’re at an event, introduce yourself to the person sitting next to you. Start a conversation at the registration desk. Ask one question at the end of a talk. The more you practice these things, the easier they become. You’ll soon start to realize that it’s not that difficult, and you’ll gain confidence.
So, you attended an event and made some great connections. Now what? Don’t just sit there like a bump on a log. While you’re at the event, jot down some points that really resonated with you. From there, reach out to someone to thank them for their insights, or to ask a question. People who speak at events are usually volunteering their time because they are passionate about what they do. They’ll appreciate your feedback, and you’ll make a great impression showing that you paid attention to their advice or feedback.
Here’s a secret. You don’t have to be at a “networking event” to network. It can happen anywhere, at any time. Waiting for the bus, at the library, the waiting room at the dentist. There are countless opportunities to show the world who you are and what you have to offer. The best way to network? Just do it. Start by saying hello. Fortune favors the brave.