All of the introverted but somewhat extroverted, socially awkward and gawky people please stand up.. Or just keep reading.
How many of us have had a little pep talk with ourselves before heading out to an event or gathering to network and be social? I know I’m not the only one.
Networking is about having good people skills, being intentional, and making your presence known in a fundamental way. I believe people’s attention spans have shortened over the years. If you’re not “entertaining” them long enough, they stop listening. However, it’s more about the engagement and less about entertaining them. I’ve put together a few tips on how to make networking less laborious and more of an experience.
SET YOUR INTENTIONS
Walking into any room with purpose will instantly help build your confidence. Knowing that you’ve shown up with a goal in mind and all you have to do is execute it, can help alleviate any pressure you may feel while networking. It doesn’t have to be grandiose. Your purpose could be to connect with the CEO of a company you’ve been wanting to work with or to just meet people and have fun. Don’t set the expectations too high, it takes away from making real connections. Be easy.
Observance is a quality of being an introvert that I truly admire. You can learn a lot about your surroundings, it allows you to keep a keen eye. You may not have time to speak with everyone in the room so spend your time wisely. Look for context clues; know who to approach and when to approach them.
Observing is cool but don’t just stare at people — engage. Listen attentively and ask questions but also physically engage with them. Look them in the eye, and (if you’re comfortable) shake their hand. Physically engaging with others is a great introduction to energy; especially if you feel like you’re an intuitive individual.
YOU’RE HERE FOR A GOOD TIME, NOT A LONG TIME
Make it memorable. It’s important to not just talk about work or what you do. Real connections happen when you can be yourself and share stories with each other. You don’t have to give them everything but maybe talk about a few things happening around the room, or compliment them and ask them what they did over the weekend. Where else do they like to hang out? Share a few of your favorite spots Etc. Keep it short but engaging. Don’t leave too early and don’t stay too long.
KEEP IN TOUCH
Business cards are always good but nowadays digital representation is more prevalent. Numbers, emails, websites, social platforms etc. Swap all or one of them. This will give them something to remember you by while also providing a way to stay in touch with you and vice versa.
Good luck on your future networking and feel free to let us know how these tips helped you!