Networking is one of the most powerful ways to further your career. It’s important to have a strong professional network, as the people within your network will be the people will be able to provide you with resources and opportunities that you may not have access to on your own.
But, networking can be difficult sometimes if you’re a more introverted person, or just very much out of your personal comfort zone. It may be difficult to form a lasting, positive impression if you are nervous, so use these tips to help you through your next networking event or opportunity.
This is especially helpful if you are a bit shy and nerves make it hard for you to think on your feet. Do a little research before your upcoming event so that starting a conversation with strangers doesn’t feel so daunting. Determine who will be attending the event, and if possible, pick out a few people that you absolutely know you’ll want to connect with. Use Linkedin and their personal websites as resources to find a bit about them beforehand. Prepare some questions that you can use to break the ice, but make sure they aren’t too specific, so that you don’t make them uncomfortable, and other people will feel welcome to join the discussion.
Try to Get an Intro
Having someone else introduce you to the person(s) you want to speak with is the easiest way to make a connection. Seek out someone who knows the person (if you don’t know anyone, ask the host of the event). Having someone of importance introduce you immediately gives you more clout than a solo introduction will, and will likely break the ice for you.
Learn to Listen
Go into any interaction with the mindset of “what can I learn from this person”. Everyone (including you) has a wealth of knowledge and unique experiences. Seek out individuals that you know will be able to teach you something new, and really listen. Ask pertinent questions and listen empathetically to build a personal and real connection with the person you are speaking with.