Networking tips for those who hate it
Some of us were born to schmooze, and love nothing more than chatting away to strangers. For others, trying to forge new working relationships with people they’ve only just met is an anxiety-inducing experience. The only problem is, sometimes it’s necessary.
Networking can be great for your career, helping you build valuable new relationships with potential partners and suppliers. You could even end up going one step further and walking away with a friendship. If you’re introverted, however, this doesn’t always come easy.
Here are some tips and tricks to help make networking bearable, or – you never know – even enjoyable.
Now, we aren’t talking about standing in front of your bathroom mirror and rehearsing a speech. Sincere networking is spontaneous, so heading to an event with a carefully-concocted script may not be the best idea. Instead, why not practice making small talk as you go about your day? You could chat to the barista as they prepare your morning coffee, or strike up a conversation with a colleague you haven’t really spoken to before, as you take the lift or stairs.
Set gradual goals
Rather than putting yourself under the pressure of talking to as many people as possible at your next event, why not try starting small? Aim to talk to at least one person and, when that’s successful, you may find the confidence to raise that number to two. Try not to focus too much on the numbers – instead, focus on the people who interest you most.
These days, many big events have their own website and Twitter feed, which makes figuring out what to expect a whole lot easier. This can allay any anxieties you might have had, as well as offer a great opportunity to do some research about your fellow attendees. By working out who’s going to be there, what they do and what their interests are, you’ll already have some starting points for conversation or common ground to bond over. You could even reach out to them on Twitter and introduce yourself in advance.
Wear what makes you feel confident
What you wear can have a surprising impact on your mood. If you dress to the nines for an event when you wouldn’t normally, or choose stylish but uncomfortable shoes, you could end up feeling self-conscious or irritable. Instead, why not pick out something you know you’ll feel comfortable and confident in wearing? It could really shine through to the person you’re speaking to.
Play to your strengths
It might not always matter that you’re not one for small talk. If you’re more of a listener, why not play to that strength? Let the person you’re speaking to take the lead, listen to what they say and ask questions. Not only could this help you get to know them better, but it could help your newfound connection see how attentive and considerate you are.
Remember quality, not quantity
Overcoming your dislike of networking might not entail going to as many events as possible. Instead, you could try going to fewer events – ones that you actually want to attend. You’ll probably find that when you’re actually enjoying your day, and are involved with something you feel passionately about, it will put you at ease, and shine through in your conversations.
Do you have any tips for people who hate networking? We’d love to hear them on our Twitter and Linkedin channels.
This article was first published on 29th March 2016.
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