The Art of Networking
Networking is essential nowadays. The fragmented job market combined with tough competition means you have to make the most out of every opportunity, including your Friday night down the pub. Unfortunately, networking isn’t fun for everyone. Whether you think it is too ego-centric or maybe you’re just shy, the task can seem a bit overwhelming.
The good news? Networking is an art, not a science. Nevertheless, you need the right paintbrushes to succeed – no more art metaphors, we promise. After reading this you’ll want to dust off your business cards and get networking!
Fake It Til You Make It
Everyone gets a bit nervous when talking to new people, it’s normal. But, if you catch yourself being more nervous than usual, take a deep breathe and fake it. Pretend you’re confident. Create a character version of yourself that is more than happy to chat with the CEO of that company you’ve always wanted to work at. We realise that for some this may be easier said than done, but it’s certainly worth a try.
Don’t Overthink It
Do you squirm whenever the word networking is uttered? You’re probably overthinking it. Just remember that it boils down to talking to someone, simple right? Don’t let the word put you off.
Break the Ice
If there is one thing you take away from this post it should be the reminder that everyone is nervous to talk to new people. With that knowledge, it will be easier for you to strike up a conversation. Next time you’re on a train, spark up a conversation with the person sat next to you. You might be nervous, but they will be too. By starting the conversation you have control of the networking experience, which should hopefully calm your fear of uncertainty.
Be a Person, Not a Robot
It’s easy to go into ‘business mode’ when networking. You start talking like you’re a character from Glengarry Glen Ross. KPIs fall from your mouth like a well-oiled machine. Stop. The art of networking is connecting on an emotional level to people, not numbers. Create a narrative for yourself that is interesting after all, stories are the most powerful way to activate our brains.
Start In the Pub
If you too nervous to network, hit the pub. After some ‘social lubrication’ aka pints have a chat with someone new. To be honest you have probably already done it a couple times. Well done, you networked. That doesn’t mean you should hit the bottle before an event for some dutch courage, but if you can do it with people you have nothing in common with you can do it at an event.
Every Day is Different
After all the tips and training you still won’t smash networking every time, let alone straight away. You’ve got to keep trying to get better at it. Unfortunately, trying more means failing more, but don’t let a bad networking experience put you off. It’s like riding a horse; if you fall off you’ve got to get back on. Happy networking!