Updated: Apr 1, 2020
Love networking? Great! Hate networking? You're not alone. While it's a vital skill to have throughout your career, networking conversations aren’t comfortable for everyone. Here are 3 tips to make it easier and still be successful:
1. Set a time limit
2. Bring a friend
3. Stay in one place
1. Set a time limit
You can get a lot of value out of a networking event even if you don't stay the whole time. If it's a two-hour event, only stay for an hour! Even 30 minutes can be beneficial if you're just starting out or if you're not as comfortable with networking events yet. Plan when you want to arrive at the event. It can work well to arrive at the very beginning of the event when there may be less people there. You can meet and mingle for an hour and then leave the event early!
Consider making mini goals for yourself at networking events:
* Meet 3 new people
* Hand out 5 business cards
* Collect 3 business cards from others
* Hand out 2 resumes
* Shake hands with every person you meet
* Make eye contact with every person you meet
Once you've reached one or more of your mini goals, feel free to leave the event! It's a great way to push yourself to get out there and engage with people while also allowing yourself to step away when you're ready. Practice makes progress so as long as you're making the effort at networking with others, you WILL make progress over time!
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2. Bring a friend
Why go it alone? Having someone with you at a networking event can be very beneficial! They can help fill gaps in conversation with people you meet. Your friend can help start a conversation by introducing you to others. Also, you can start a conversation by introducing your friend.
Example: "Hello, I'm Sarah Schrader and I'm a student at XYZ University and this is John Doe, who also attends XYZ University".
Consider asking multiple people to attend an event together! They can be part of your friends group, classmates, teammates, or coworkers, etc. Just make sure that if you attend a networking event with one or more people that you still focus on YOUR OWN needs at the event. Do you need to meet with others at the event so that you can provide your business card and resume? Make sure you do that!
⠀ 3. Stay in one place
Seriously. Arrive at the networking event and choose a general location in the room to stay put during the event. If you don't feel comfortable wandering the room striking up conversations, staying in one place allows you flexibility to engage with others at a different pace.
If a networking event offers food and/or beverages, a great option is to get some snacks and then find a table to stay at for part of the event. Having the snacks allows you to be busy with something so that you don't feel awkward but you're still available for conversation with others. The food and beverages can also be a great conversation starter with other attendees!
In addition to these 3 key tips, here are some other things to keep in mind. Consider bringing business cards and/or copies of your resume with you to the events. These can be great ways to introduce yourself to others as well as provide them more information if you plan to reconnect later. ALWAYS wear a name tag! ...I know, name tags don't always look great with an outfit BUT it is important that you give others an easy way for them to get to know you and to remember you!
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In summary, practice makes progress when it comes to anything including professional networking! Using the tips above, make your plan for your next networking event. The more you have these conversations and meet new people, the easier it will become.
* Find a networking event near you and attend!
* Find a friend or work colleague to attend the event with you.
Stay tuned for more advice and tips from That Purple Book! Connect with That Purple Book across social media @ThatPurpleBook
Connect with me at Sarah@ThatPurpleBook.com with questions.