“Oh, I am a terrible networker.”
“Those types of things give me so much anxiety.”
“Those things don’t really matter any ways.”
What do these three sentences have in common? They’re all wrong. Networking is very important in any line of work and it isn’t as scary as you make it out to be. Basically since the beginning of time (or since the time you spent on the playground), you have been networking. How do you think you made friends? You told them a little bit about yourself, what you like, what you don’t like, etc. Then like magic, you became friends. See that wasn’t so scary. So, why can’t you muster up the courage to go to a networking event where there is probably food and wine? What is the million-dollar answer? You’re being a chicken. Or lazy. A lazy chicken.
Networking is important because it can lead to many different opportunities. You never know whom you are going to meet or who knows whom in a room full of people. Obviously some networking events are better than others, but you never know who can make an introduction for you. Every relationship you make matters, which is key to successful networking.
If you think you’re a horrible networker, don’t. It is important to have confidence, so fake it until you make it. Chances are there is someone else in the room that is just as nervous as you but you would never know. If you exude confidence, it will rub off on other people, create conversations and a make great first impression. If you’re still nervous, come prepared with a few easy talking points that will lead the conversation. But remember not everyone is going to be nice and responsive, that’s okay. Develop thick skin and understand that if someone doesn’t respond to your follow up or show interest in the conversation, it’s not personal.
The best thing about networking is that it pushes the boundaries of your comfort zone. Like stated above, you never know who you’re going to meet or where an opportunity is going to present itself. Networking allows you to meet all different types of people and learn more about what they do in the field. There may be a side of your profession you never thought to explore and a simple conversation can open your eyes to it. Nothing exciting ever comes from sitting in those four walls of your comfort zone, so knock them down.
To prove the above sentences wrong, it is pretty easy:
- “Oh, I am a terrible networker.” No one is a terrible networker; all you need to do is be yourself.
- “Those types of things give me so much anxiety.” Fake it till you make it!
- “Those things don’t really matter anyway.” Wrong, you never know who you’ll meet to give you advice, conversation or even a job.
So have fun and be confident! If you absolutely feel terrible at the event then leave. 9 out of 10 times, you will meet someone and the conversation will start flowing. But you’ll never know if you don’t put yourself out there!