Tips For Making Networking Less Scary
So, you're looking for a new job. Networking is vital for finding a professional position, but it can be scary and intimidating. Going to a networking event might be more nerve wracking than final exams. Whether you're a new graduate who remembers them clearly or a career changer for whom they're in the distant past, it can still be difficult to network properly. Here are a few tips to help you with this difficult task.
Go to the bar
Yes, even if you don't drink. At any conference or networking event, the bar is both where people go to relax and where a lot of the real deals are cut. (You can always order a soda). Bars are a natural environment for talking to people you don't know that well, and you can easily strike up a conversation then gently steer the topic to your job search. Just be careful to keep your alcohol consumption down, as making a fool of yourself is entirely counterproductive.
It's very tempting when networking (or in interviews) to put on a fake, professional persona to convince somebody to hire you. Unfortunately, then they're hiring somebody who doesn't exist and eventually, disillusionment will set in – often on both sides.
Don't Sweat It
A common networking mistake is trying too hard. Rushing right in with "Hi! I'm looking for a job, and I can do…" makes you come over as desperate. Be willing to talk about things other than work (and the weather). Instead of focusing entirely on what you need, try to make personal connections. That way, even if the person can't help you right then, they might remember you positively if your name crosses their desk.
Bring Business Cards
Even if you don't have a current job, get business cards. You can get them pretty cheap. Instead of a job position, put something which refers to your skills, aspirations, and goals. Add an email address and your cell phone number. Bringing business cards will not only make you look more serious and professional, but provide the person a handy cue to remember who you are. However, don't push them into people's faces, which can also make you look desperate.
Don't Take Moral Support
Don't take a friend, your spouse, a family member – go it alone. If you have somebody you know with you, you will spend all of your time talking to them instead of making new connections.
Keep the conversation positive. Talk about your good qualities – and compliment those of the person you're talking to. Avoid the latest political controversy or recent bad news and absolutely don't mention any frustrations about your job search, finances or personal relationships.
It's not that hard to learn to network. The most important things are to be positive, be yourself and try to relax. Networking is scary, but it's a key part of expanding your career. For more help, Institute of Technology can provide you with the skills to improve your networking – or change to an entirely new career.