According to a recent Linkedin global survey, almost 80 percent of professionals consider professional networking crucial to career success. Despite the importance of networking, it often gets a bad rap.
What is it about networking that makes people cringe?
The benefits of networking are endless: developing prospects, new job leads, mentorship building. Despite the well-documented benefits, I receive tons of comments and messages from executives expressing that it’s just “not for them.”
Here are a few tips to make your next event less stress-inducing and more fun.
1. Change Your Thinking
Think of networking as building relationships over time, the same way you would a friendship. It’s not common to attend a networking event and immediately do business with a brand-new connection. Building trust and rapport takes time. The fact is that success in business can be significantly impacted by one’s ability to form and maintain relationships.
2. Manage Expectations
Have a strategy and set reasonable, attainable goals. For example, “meet five new people.” Meaningful connections and relationships have to start somewhere, so think of the first meeting as a potential starting point for a relationship. Just like friendship, some people you immediately connect with and some you don’t. Don’t force it, be authentic.
3. Ditch the Pitch
Having a 30-second elevator pitch is great, but it can often feel unnatural delivering it in a networking setting. I suggest a one-liner that you are comfortable with and don’t hesitate to share something more personal. True connections happen when you find a common interest or shared experience.
(Message me, and I’ll share my one-liner)
4. Use Linkedin
Linked in provides excellent opportunity to connect with new people without actually attending a networking event. Reach out and start a conversation online, then you can decide how to meet connection in person.
5. Get There Early
There is an excellent advantage to being the first one at a networking event. It gives you a chance to do these three things.
- Get comfortable with the environment
- Get to know the host
- Eliminates the need to break into conversations that might already be happening if you get there late
A fundamentally important aspect of networking is to be your authentic self and make genuine connections.
I promise it’s worth it.