I love networking. Not in the way I love peanut brittle, but it is fun! It can be fulfilling and beneficial to your career. However, you won’t get much out of it if you go in with the wrong Systems of Thought.
After speaking to colleagues and from my own observations, I’ve noticed that when you have an unsuccessful networking event experience, it’s for only one reason: you are not listening.
Think about it this way: if your goal at a networking event is to tell everyone how awesome you are and cram your black & white VistaPrint-made business card into as many sweaty palms as possible, how much do you think you’ll be listening to your fellow networkers? How much empathy and support will you be demonstrating?
Others have the same problem for the exact opposite reason. What if you think you have nothing to offer and you’re so nervous that you’re too scared to talk to anybody?
If you fall into one of these two categories, how many verbal & visual cues from your fellow networkers do you think you’ll miss? How many negative verbal & visual cues will you be demonstrating? My guess is many.
TIP OF THE WEEK: The keys to any successful relationship are communication and trust. If you can’t or won’t communicate because you are too nervous or ensure only one-way communication because you are overconfident, nobody will want to hire you. It’s OK to be a little nervous just like it’s OK to exude a certain level of confidence. The best way to stay even-keeled is to:
1. Be Prepared: know what kind of networking event you are attending and which of your skill sets are best suited to showcase when you interact with others. Oh, and bring business cards. Good ones!
2. Listen: actively listen to the people you interact with. Don’t just regard your fellow networkers in terms of potential revenue, try to connect with them as people.
3. Share: my dear friend and FaffCamp organizer Amy Snively says that when you to go a networking event play this little game. You can’t leave until you’ve helped at least one person and one person has helped you. It doesn’t have to be professionally, either. If you are truly connecting with people, you will learn things about them personally and may find ways to help each other. It can be anything from swapping recipes to referring one of your friends to them or vice versa.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
I’m a light eater. As soon as it’s light I start to eat.
STUFF!: Nest week in Part 2 of “The Art and Science of Networking”, I will talk about the three networking events I attended last week and how I made each of them a success.
From Tom Dheere’s apartment, this is Tom Dheere: GKN News…