When I shared my game plan for 2020, I shared a few of my business goals. One of them in to get back into networking and making connections. When I worked my first corporate job, networking was a huge part of my role. I was always researching events to attend, figuring out ways to bring exposure, and share information about the company with others. I’m not going to lie…. I hated it. I was young, scared, and it was intimidating to me at the time. In my head I would think “Am I going to say the wrong thing”?, “Are they even listening”?, etc.
Naturally, I’m shy and sometimes it can take a while for me to open up to people. Now that I’m a little older, I understand the importance of networking and how it can be beneficial to you and your business. I believe it’s a character builder.
If networking scares you, check out some of my tips below!
1.) Be confident
I know how daunting networking can be. You know who you are! Introduce yourself, give a firm handshake, and make eye contact. In the past, I used to be the one to wait around for someone to come up to me but it’s so important to take initiative.
2.) Use compliments as an icebreaker
Now when doing this, you do not want to come off as thirsty or a** kissing just to have a conversation with them — but it helps to get the conversation going and potentially build a relationship.
3.) Don’t spread yourself too thin
This is important. Think about quality vs quantity in this case. Of course the ultimate goal is to make as many connections as possible, but it’s impossible to attend every event and conference. You’re going to be no good to anyone or be able to share your best self when you’re packing your schedule.
Actually listen and digest the conversation. Make sure you’re not talking about yourself too much and allow the other person to get a word in. It can be annoying when getting to know someone and you’re constantly talking about yourself and cutting the other person off.
5.) Follow up
Okay so the conversation went great and you guys exchanged information. Cool, you survived! But following up is key. Now a days, it’s easy to ask for their Instagram than a business card. It feels more casual and less stuffy. Depending on your job or business, you may need to ask for a business card. It really all depends on the person you’re speaking with. When I worked in corporate, I still keep in contact with the connections I have built. We reach out to each other during birthdays, congratulate each other with career milestones, go to lunch, etc. Following up can really lead to some great friendships.
I hope these tips are helpful! Of course there’s plenty of tips out there so do your research. These are all based off of my experience. Even though it can be a little intimidating at the end of the day, just have fun with it!