Networking plays a crucial role in becoming successful in any industry. Learning the skills to network with people in similar industries is very important not only when looking for a new position or firm, but also to expand the relationships of your company or business so that collaborating with other professionals becomes more organic and personal. It can be easy to feel discouraged or socially awkward when you are building a relationship solely based on business, but these tips will help you to step out of your comfort zone and master the art of networking.
Fake It ‘til You Make It
Networking is a skill. It takes time to feel entirely comfortable and confident when networking. Everyone starts somewhere, even CEO’S. Practice small talk in the mirror, or in the car when on your way to a business event. Prepare your answers for icebreakers like “what do you do?” “how did you get started?” and other questions that are commonly asked when meeting other professionals. This way, you’ll feel more confident and prepared when networking and will be warmed up to small talk.
Bring a wing person
Having someone with you that is comfortable breaking the ice and introducing you to others can help to calm any anxieties you may feel at networking events. Once you’ve warmed up to meeting people through your colleague or wing person, use that stamina to venture off on your own. You got this!
Do Your Research
Have a list in mind of the people that you would like to connect with. That way you will feel more prepared and have goals in mind. Linkedin can be a great tool, as well as your emails! If you email frequently with someone from a different firm or company frequently but have never met in person, networking events are the perfect opportunity to not only strengthen these relationships but also to build new ones!
Set a Realistic Time Limit
Be honest with yourself. If you know you can only survive a couple of hours of socializing, that’s okay. Everyone has their limits and you don’t want to appear visibly emotionally drained, people will catch on. Set a time limit so that you can prioritize the people you are meeting, and connections you are making. If you network efficiently and purposefully you will be able to get in and get out with what you need.
When in doubt, listen
If you’re in conversation and can feel yourself running out of things to say, use this as an opportunity to listen. Ask questions and let the conversation go from there. Listening will make the other person feel that you are genuinely invested in what they are saying and will leave a good impression!