How to Network Sept 30, 2013 1:58:39 GMT -5
Post by TheyCallMeTiko on Sept 30, 2013 1:58:39 GMT -5
Let's face it, we've all been in a situation where we've had to socialize on the level of trying to impress people who could possibly do something for us or the other way around. Its called networking, or "schmoozing" as some would like to refer to it. And no matter how much of an awkward, self loathing experience it is, its something at some point we're all going to have to do. So why not take some tips from people who know what they're doing and do it with style...
From The College Prepster
1. It's not networking (it's connecting). Yes, this post is titled "How to Network" and yes, the first tip is to drop the whole networking thing. Networking is stale and will lead you down the wrong path. Forget about collecting as many business cards as possible and instead focus on making connections. Even if its in a professional context, these relationships should be pretty close to a friendship! (I think friendships come in all shapes and sizes!)
2. Be yourself. If you're loud and funny, be loud and funny. If you're shy and awkward, it's okay to be awkward and quieter. Knowing that you can be yourself and not have to worry about acting in a way you think you should act will instantly calm you down. A bit, at least. Don't worry about what you think you should do... Just relax and know it's okay to be yourself. In fact, it's WAY better to be yourself. Always. When you're yourself, you'll make a genuine connection.
3. Ask questions (and listen). Human truth: people like talking about themselves. Want to get a conversation going? Ask a question. Or two. Keep asking questions. You'll learn so much about the other person. Plus, there is no better way to show interest by asking smart questions. Oh, and to ask smart questions... you have to listen. Followup questions should never be something that the person already said. Yikes.
4. Prepare a few safe topics ahead of time. This is my BEST trick. I use it all the time for absolutely anything. I actually start every morning while I'm in line for Starbucks with this exercise. While in line, I come up with three things that I could talk to about with someone if I find myself in a situation where I feel uncomfortable. Some examples: New restaurants you want to try or just visited, an exhibit that opened up in the city, a new life event (like your new job or a new project), something in the news (but avoid religious and political topics)... etc. I always back-pocket three topics so I know I'll always have something to talk about. No matter what.
5. Reach out to anyone (and everyone). Want to pick someone's brain? Ask her to coffee. Just dying to know how she does it all? Ask. See someone at an event that you've always looked up to? Introduce yourself. It takes work and effort... but it's worth it. Don't wait for someone to come up to you or to reach out to you. Go for it.
6. And my last bonus tip... It's okay if you don't "click" with someone. I generally meet with eight to ten different people throughout a normal week. Half of the time, I'm meeting complete strangers. Almost always we hit it off or get through the meeting with amazing end results. BUT, from time to time, we don't click. I used to get really annoyed with myself... thinking that I did absolutely everything wrong. But you know what? Sometimes the synergy is just not there and that is okay. Focus on the connections that work instead of beating yourself up over the connections that don't.
Do you have any tips for making connections with people?