I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with networking. On one hand, it comes with anxiety and small talk, and on the other, it’s one of the most effective ways to further your career. Simply put, it’s getting to know people and being social. You never know how a connection can affect you short or long-term, so it’s worth putting the awkward feelings behind you and doing it. Just keep it natural; that’s probably the best piece of advice I’ve heard towards networking. Here’s how:
It’s easy to come off salesy when you’re trying to network but the most genuine way is to be yourself. Try not to upsell your role or come off overly confident, and get to know a person before asking for a favor. You may even end up connecting with someone new about something non-work related, which is an authentic way to build a “work” relationship.
Find fun events
You don’t have to pick the most boring sounding conference to attend, no matter your industry. Find something that you’ll at the least learn from, or think about events that aren’t directly related to your job but where you could meet industry people. Maybe it’s a women in business seminar, or a happy hour benefiting a charity but hosted by a prestigious person in your industry. Pick events you won’t dread going to and bring a friend to feel comfortable!
Instead of letting there be awkward silence around work people, start a conversation. It could be something as simple as “happy friday!” in the elevator. Or, if there’s someone new at work, be the first to say hello. Treat everyone you meet with kindness and respect—it’s a small world and an even smaller industry.
Reconsider social media
Use social media to your advantage. Maybe you don’t have a direct connection with an industry vet on LinkedIn, but maybe you know someone at their company—look around. Or maybe your dream mentor is receptive to Instagram direct messages. Most of us have social media and use it daily, so think outside the box in terms of how to utilize it.
Go through friends
So many of us know a friend of a friend who works at our dream company, but might feel weird asking them to intro us. Your friends want to see you happy and are willing to help you, I promise, so don’t stress about it. It might feel weird putting yourself out there, but try asking for an introduction—you never know where it could lead. Especially when it’s to a friend who already knows you’re genuine and good person!
How do you deal with networking?