You know what I hate? Networking. And I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in that. That’s why we’ve rounded up 9 networking tips to put you at ease.
Networking feels unnatural and awkward to me. And every time I do it I feel like I’m back in middle school trying to make friends. Which is like…not what I want to feel like.
The good news, though, is that networking doesn’t have to feel sleazy and weird. I like to think of networking as expanding my circle, with the added bonus of maybe creating beneficial partnerships and job opportunities! So take a deep breath, that pressure off, and crush the networking game.
1. Be Yourself
If there’s only one thing you take away from these networking tips, it’s to be yourself and trust that you got this. Every other tip comes back to this. People can tell if you’re uneasy or anxious and that can end up making you seem unapproachable. So take a deep breath, and know that being yourself is the best thing you can do 🙂
2. Always Be Ready
A lot of people paint networking as this, like, massive cocktail party thing that people purposefully go to. While this might happen once in a blue moon, the truth is that networking can happen at any moment. I’m not saying you should always keep a copy of your resume with you because that would DEF make it awkward, but being open to chatting at any moment can make a huge difference in expanding your circle.
And take some time right now to think about how you want to come across. Do you want to be bubbly and outgoing, quieter and introspective, or something in between? Do you want people to know you for your business-savvy mindset, or your interpersonal skills? Whatever the case, always be ready to make that impression!
3. Have Your Elevator Pitch Ready
Practice makes perfect, and while you don’t want to sound like a robot, it can help to have your shpeel always ready to go. Networking can be stressful af and it’s easy to feel the pressure of making the right connections and giving off the right first impression. Well take that pressure off, by doing your homework, so you don’t seize up or blabber (I know I do that when I’m nervous). As silly as it sounds, try explaining what you do to yourself in front of a mirror and work out any kinks before you’re in a situation where it actually matters. It really helps!
4. Start with a Smile
I think we can all agree that a smile goes a long way. In both directions. Think about a time when you’ve felt nervous or uneasy, and the effect a friendly smile has to ease that anxiety. On the flip side, giving a warm smile can help to put you at ease too. Remind yourself of all those amazing talents of yours and give yourself an encouraging smile. Not only will you feel great, you’ll invite others to approach you and that warmth.
5. Don’t be Afraid to Put Yourself out There.
Think of networking like dating. Lol, but actually. Sometimes you need to make the first move or at the very least meet the other person halfway. Don’t be afraid of something not going perfectly or not achieving exactly what you want, and know that even if it doesn’t go exactly to plan, it’s better than not trying at all!
6. Dress to Impress (within reason)
You’ve probably been told this networking tip a million times and we should respect it…but within reason. Sadly people do judge books by their covers and it takes like 10 seconds for someone to judge you. I’m not saying you should wear a blazer everywhere you go, but be conscious in putting yourself together in a way that accurately represents who YOU are. Plus when you feel good in what you’re wearing, it can help put you in the right mindset and give you an extra boost.
7. Connect on a Personal Level
People want to work with people they like! It’s so much more fun to work with friends. So be yourself and try to find common ground outside of the professional/working world. As silly as it sounds, if someone is wearing a cute top, say “I love your top!” Find something that you can connect on outside of business and then the networking part will just flow.
8. Always Say Yes to New Opportunities.
Don’t be afraid to go outside your comfort zone or take that risk. It’s easy to burrow yourself into a certain safe niche, but all the fun stuff happens once you get outside of it. Play to your strengths and know that taking a risk, pursuing your dreams, and going for it, is what gets you to that next level.
9. Follow Up
You already did the hard part! Why not solidify your connection with a thank you note or a quick email or text? This is one of the best and most effective networking tips I’ve used. It’s thoughtful, takes minimal effort, and it cements your connection with the other person to make it last longer than that first interaction.