I know the prospect of networking can sometimes make us (ok, me) sweat nervously on our upper lip however, the saying is true… It really is all about who you know.
As intimidating as it might be, putting yourself out there and meeting new people is a brave move we should all be making. Perhaps you’re just starting out fresh from University like myself or maybe you’re thinking about switching careers or perhaps you want to expand your business; learning to navigate a networking event will help to reduce the SULA and ultimately increase career confidence. We need to push out of our comfort zones and get used to feeling uncomfortable because that is when the good stuff will start to happen!
From attending the Cosmopolitan Self Made Summit, I have pages of notes all about the art of networking and so I thought I would share the key takeaways:
1. Don’t be afraid
It’s totally okay to attend a networking event alone! Introduce yourself and find some common ground, the first few minutes are crucial as you want to settle in early so you can start making valuable connections; an easy question makes for a great opener!
2. Nail your opening lines
Having your opening lines prepared is a fantastic way to reduce the nerves, as you won’t confuse your pitch. A few lines about yourself that include your USP is a great way to contribute to the conversation. Don’t forget to be yourself though, since you are your strongest selling point!
3. Positive body language and eye contact
Maintaining eye contact and showing encouraging interest is crucial to networking as you don’t want to be remembered as the person who looked bored. Take every opportunity and listen to what they have to say, even if it’s not what or who you initially came for; having an open mind could lead to something wonderful!
4. Take notes and business cards
Have a notebook and pen ready at all times; you will always want to jot info down… You will not remember it when you get home – I assure you. Carry business cards wherever you go, not just at events – you never know who you might meet in the queue for your skinny latte.
5. The follow up
Send a brief yet meaningful email to those you met at an event. If you hit it off, invite them for a coffee to continue the conversation. People respond to confidence but do be transparent about your intentions. Avoid making career connections via social media as you don’t want to be unprofessional.
From listening to the experts at Self Made, it became clear that this invaluable skill will only improve with practice and with practice comes confidence… So next time you want to skip out early from an event, go introduce yourself to someone.