So far in this series we have discussed that networking is alive and well in this digital age, how networking helps to access the “hidden” job market, and how important it is to develop lasting relationships. Today we will focus on how people who aren’t naturally social can overcome some of the challenges they face when networking.
Networking is usually easy for people who are outgoing and extroverted, but not everyone has those qualities. There are many people who are introverts and don’t like meeting new people. So, how does someone without those particular qualities find success in Networking? The answer is simple, it takes practice. As with anything you aren’t good at, with a little practice you can be successful. Networking is no different.
Many times you have to push yourself to go out and make connections/speak to people. It’s tough to connect with someone you don’t know, find commonalities and discover not only what they can offer you but what you can offer them! You may not be able to offer each other anything during a first conversation, but don’t let that relationship wither, because the point of networking is to build your contact list for future opportunities. Here are several steps one can take to be successful in this regard:
1) Talk to people you feel comfortable around. It’s simple, but it can quickly help you overcome your nervousness when networking. Look around the room for people you think may be approachable.
2) Attend networking events with friends or people you know. Many times it’s easier to speak with “strangers” when you’re standing alongside someone familiar.
3) Be a great listener. Sometimes you don’t have to speak as much as you listen. Take time, and let the other people speak about their career and what they do. You’ll be amazed at what you discover!
4) Networking is about being genuine and authentic, building trust and seeing how you can help others. Be yourself when talking to people. Relax and keep the conversation simple. Even if you talk about things outside of the business world, you can always loop back to business topics once you become more acquainted.
These are a few things that can help you overcome your timidity and get the most out of networking opportunities. Practice is essential, and the more you practice, the more you improve. Networking is no different. Take opportunities meet new people and network, and you’ll soon be on your way to having a highly effective network.
Stay tuned tomorrow for the final post in this networking series: Social Networking 101.
Cornelius Booker is a senior member of the Regional Navigator team and a graduate of Oklahoma State University where he received his Bachelors in Marketing and later received his M.B.A with a focus on Business Marketing and Management. With his personal experience and passion for the disabled community, Cornelius’ insights are an invaluable asset to the Workforce Solutions organization.