I have been asked by quite a few people in the last year about networking and if I could provide some general suggestions to help them succeed. Networking can cause anxiousness because people often don’t know where to start. Others don’t feel comfortable going to events or striking up conversations with strangers. Here are some quick tips that may help take some of the stress away:
- Linkedin – Join specific groups and engage/comment on things you read about in the community. Not all networking needs to be face-to-face. This type of engagement can spark up conversations and interest.
- Seek a mentor who can introduce you to other employees, new people in the community or other key people in the organization.
- Attend seminars/workshops – promise yourself you will talk to 2 new people each time. Think about some of the key things we talk to our friends about such as work, hobbies, family, etc. Where do they work and how do they like it? What do they do for fun or have they found any great family events recently? What does their company do and how is the year going? (Often, it is easiest to sit and talk to a co-worker; however, you often miss out on meeting new people. These new people could be a good connection for you later!)
- Practice your 20 second elevator speech – For example: I work for ABC company where I do customized welding for the auto and trucking industry. It is a great position because it is very challenging and no 2 parts are alike. Or, I work at XYZ as a Controller and I oversee all accounting and HR functions for 85 employees. We just completed a large software conversion which was challenging but exciting! (Keep in short, engaging and positive.)
- Use the networking/elevator tips for trade shows, special functions, neighborhood cookouts, and all functions you attend.
Take small steps each time and it will become easier! Remember that networking can involve so many facets – it just takes getting out of your comfort zone a wee bit 🙂