What is “networking”, anyway?
You’ve heard the cliche: Your network is your net worth. Being able to network is something that is very important in any career. Networking involves being able to develop personal connections and contacts with a different range of people who might be helpful to you and your professional life.
The Balance.com has this to say about networking as it pertains to professional life:
Career networking, or “professional” networking, involves using personal, professional, academic or familial contacts to assist with a job search, achieve career goals, or learn more about your field, or another field you’d like to work in.
Networking can be a good way to hear about job opportunities or get an “in” at the company you’d like to work in.
Networking is important. I’m sure you get the point now.
If you network with the right people, you will be able to find appropriate business partners, investors, mentors a new job, and so on.
Are you shy?
It’s true that if you’re shy or introverted, you could start to feel anxious about crowds or meeting new people. However, this is not enough reason for you to miss out on real life opportunities.
Here are some simple and effective tips you can use so you’ll be able to turn networking into a good thing instead of something to avoid totally.
Go with a plus one – Going with a friend can help a lot. First of all, if you’ve already committed to going to an event with someone, you won’t have much of an excuse to back out. At the event, it’s helpful to have a familiar face to run to if things start to dry up or get awkward. This doesn’t mean that you should be joined at the hip to your friend at the event because this also defeats the purpose.
Prepare for the event – You need to spend some time asking yourself important questions on how the event will benefit you. You should also prepare some questions that you will ask potential investors, business partners, etc so that your entire efforts aren’t wasted.
Be an early bird – You’ll feel less intimidated when you have fewer people to walk into at the event. Get to the event early so that you can be one of the first people there. You might even be able to form a small group with your fellow early birds and you’ll discover that the world is not such a cold place after all.
Start small – Instead of going for crowded events, you could start off with events that won’t have a lot of people. Then, you can work your way up from there.
Quality, not quantity – You don’t have to talk to everyone. Just aim for a few key people and keep your conversations meaningful.
Set goals – You could set challenges for yourself and try to beat them. For instance, you could decide that in a month, you would meet six new people – it doesn’t even have to be at a networking event.
Smile and relax – They’re human beings just like you. You might even have some people in the crowd whose introvert qualities are undetectable because they’re courageous. Fake it till you make it!