Everyone hates networking. It’s terrifying, anxiety-producing and stressful. Ahhhhhhhhh. Ok, lets break it down.
Why is networking so important?
It’s an opportunity to show others your capabilities, your confidence & skills. It’s about positioning yourself in front of decision makers. It’s about getting comfortable with promoting yourself (oohh, self-promotion….the dirty word!). So how do you network? Here are some tips.
PREPARE FOR ALL SETTINGS. –It doesn’t matter if you’re speaking in a formal or informal setting, or even impromptu occasions (elevator pitch or coffee shop pitch!).—You need to prepare for networking opportunities everywhere. Not just formal events or conferences.
NETWORKING IS A TWO-WAY STREET. Remember, networking isn’t only about you. –Do your homework. Who do you need to speak with? Read up on them so you can have a substantial conversation. Be sincere, be genuine. Build relationships. What can you do for them? How can you help them? How can you make their lives easier? How can you work together? It’s not just about you and what you can get out of people.
WHAT ARE YOU SELLING? What are you promoting? What do you hope to get out of a conversation? A job? An internship? A mentor? A few minutes of their time? Know what you want BEFORE you open your mouth. Know what you have to offer BEFORE you speak.
PREPARE A SCRIPT/PITCH. You must have a prepared and practiced script or pitch in mind. Don’t lose people’s attention by rambling on. Have a brilliant 30 second, 2 minute and 5 minute pitch that you practice so it sounds natural. Use your wording deliberately. See my other posts about this to help you out.
INVEST IN YOURSELF AT ALL TIMES – This means showing up to as many events, experiences and opportunities that you can. Invest in your career by taking steps all the time to move you forward. Attend every networking lunch, take initiative to stand out, stand apart from the crowd. Or you will NOT get noticed. Do this on your own. As scary as it is, go to these events on your own and you’ll start building confidence.
CREATE OPPORTUNITIES – Stop waiting to be introduced to people, and start making the introductions yourself. Stop waiting for the “perfect opportunity” and start creating them wherever you are. Example, I forced myself out of my comfort zone and attended a networking lunch by myself. I didn’t know anyone there, but I made sure I spoke to 20 different people (yikes!). I asked them about their business, how they got started. And you know what I realized? People LOVE talking about themselves. It became easier to talk to more people, when I realized everyone just wants to be heard, to feel validated,& to feel valued.
Ok, feel better? Feel more prepared? Practice! And the get out there and start networking.
Let me know how it’s going.