Most professionals have heard people extoll the virtues of networking for greater career success. For some, this comes naturally as they are comfortable meeting new people. For others, networking feels like an insurmountable challenge.
Some people are naturally shy or introverted, while others wonder if networking skews towards being manipulative. But networking doesn’t have to be difficult or disingenuous. By building connections in ways that are comfortable to you, you can meet other professionals who can help propel your career forward. Here are some tips on networking for those who don’t necessarily like schmoozing.
Find Your Comfort Zone
When most people think of networking, they picture large events like industry conferences. However, smaller venues can be just as effective when you want to connect with others, and some social media options may eliminate certain social pressures entirely, at least at first.
It is perfectly acceptable to begin by communicating online or starting with smaller meetings1 to help you connect with other professionals. If you have friends or colleagues with which you already have a positive relationship, it can also be wise to enlist their assistance when broadening your network. They may be able to introduce you to other members of their network or accompany you to events, giving you an ally who can schmooze alongside you.
The trick is to select methods and opportunities that are within your comfort zone. By doing so, you’ll feel more confident, making it easier to meet other professionals in your field.
Don’t Put Too Much Pressure on Yourself
There is no minimum number of connections you must make when you go to an event. While some people go for volume, don’t feel discouraged if you only meet a few people along the way. Often, the quality of the connection means more than the number of email addresses you secure, so don’t feel like you need to race through the room exchanging business cards. Instead, take the time to get to know those with whom you connect and focus on building a relationship that can last into the future. Think of how a business relationship could be mutually beneficial or rewarding.
Hit Social Media Before an Event
If there is a particular event you plan on attending, see if you can gain access to the list of attendees. Some conferences make this information available to others who have signed up to participate, making it easy to see who else will be there. Otherwise, you may be able to do some searches on social media to locate other professionals who’ve mentioned their plans to be present.
Once you find out who else will be in attendance, consider reaching out to a few of those professionals over social media in advance. If someone works in a field you are interested in or has experience in any area you’d like to explore, contacting them in advance allows you to break the ice before you meet in person. Then, if the online conversations go well, you can always arrange to meet for a cup of coffee when you both arrive at the event, allowing you to turn an online connection into a personal one.
Create Neutral Common Ground
Some people dislike networking because they can’t figure out what to say when they meet someone new. One easy technique that can help alleviate this pressure is to prepare as you would before attending an interview2. Plan to discuss some key points about your current company and work experience, and look for news about any industry trends that peak your interest. This can give you neutral topics to discuss and lets you plan some of what you will say, making it easier to make small talk when the time comes.
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If you’re interested in learning more about networking or are looking for a new job, the professionals at Employ Partners have the expertise you need to succeed. Contact us to schedule an appointment with a member of our team today and work with a leading Atlanta temp agency.