It seems that the road to success is networking. It can be career suicide if you fail to network in this day and age. Everyone is doing it and needs to do it. But for many, networking is more painful than anything imaginable. For introverts, shy people and those who are socially challenged, it doesn’t mean the end of the world. With the helpful tips found here, you can build a network to match any extrovert.
Before you go to the event, prepare and practice. Having done this ahead of time will take some of the pressure off while you are in the situation. You will know what to say, how to say it, and when to quit.
- Write 3-5 open-ended questions that are appropriate for everyone in the room. Questions about the venue, food, weather, upcoming holiday, etc. act as a lead-in to a conversation.
- Know what’s going on around you and in the world so that you are can keep up with conversations by reading the newspaper, listening/watching the news, and keeping up with other current events.
- If possible, find out who will be there ahead of time. Do a Google/LinkedIn search on people you are interested in meeting. When you have some background information, you can prepare questions and have some knowledge about the person so you won’t be at a loss for words.
- Assemble a list of goals you would like to achieve at the event. Find a reasonable number of people you would like to connect with at the event. You don’t need to talk to everyone, but having a number will keep you focused on continuing the networking.
- Ask family and close friends to help you prepare for the event by allowing you to practice your questions, rehearse body language that is welcoming, friendly and social, and prepare general chit-chat. Ask them for honest feedback and take their suggestions for improvement.
- Go over your elevator speech many times so it comes out sounding natural and not over-rehearsed.
- Practicing while you are in a safe environment will give you confidence. The more you practice the better and more self-confident you will become, which makes networking so much easier.
My next post will help you when you are at the event and after the event. In the meantime, start preparing and practicing. It’s never too early to be ready.