Professional Networking, the Non-Schmoozy Way
It's a topic that garners a range of responses. The extroverts perk up, and the introverts cringe. The schmoozers grab their stack of business cards, and the rest of us wish we didn't have to awkwardly start up conversations with strangers, our end goal being apparent to everyone in the room. For the rare few who are in their element networking, bravo. For the rest of us, here are a few helpful tips that will help you enjoy meeting new people, be a source of personal growth, and (who knows) maybe land your next job.
1. Practice Makes Perfect
It may sound silly but practicing, even in the mirror or to your little sister, before you attend a networking event will only help you to be more prepared and confident. Practice some of the key elements like a firm hand shake, eye contact, posture and how you introduce yourself and your strengths within the first few minutes of meeting someone.
2. Set a Goal
For those of us who aren't exactly excited to talk to strangers, setting a concrete goal is great tactic to avoid backing into a corner and chatting with people you already know all night. This will remind you that you do have to leave your comfort zone and of the real reason you came in the first place. Make a promise to yourself to talk to three new people. Make it a point to introduce yourself to anyone standing alone. Collect five business cards. Make a coffee date with one person.
3. Be Authentic
If you want to be successful in networking, you have to clearly represent your intentions and who you are. Make it clear why you are there so people can help you. No one likes a fake so don't pretend to be knowledgeable in a field you know little about. Sincerity is incredibly appealing to new acquaintances. Don't forget, it's not hard to tell when someone is being overly nice and phony.
4. Make it Fun!
Every person you meet in life has a different experience and wealth of knowledge to share. So, rather than thinking of networking as something you have to do, look at it as a chance to meet people who otherwise wouldn't have crossed your path. It's an awesome way to learn others' viewpoints, share ideas and even discover new interests.
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