Do you hate networking? Maybe you just strongly dislike it. It’s ok. A lot of people put it right up there with cold calling, public speaking, and moving.
Networking is a necessary part of any job search. Once you get the job, networking may still be something you have to do. Whether you are at a formal networking event, holiday gathering, work social hour, or any other place where professional adults gather, these tips can make it more bearable and dare we say–maybe even a little fun.
Hate Networking? Keep reading…
The best thing you can do to increase your networking strategy is to first change your mindset about it. Instead of viewing it as something to get through and an obligation, have fun with it. Start by creating some games you can play with yourself.
Before you arrive set some goals for yourself. For example, challenge yourself to talk to every person in the room who is wearing a particular color, like blue. Then, work your way around the room. You are not allowed to leave until you have made contact with everyone wearing that color.
Another example is to find a certain number of people who work in a particular industry, field, or have a certain job title.
You get the idea. Challenge yourself with a goal and networking becomes an entertaining game instead of tedious chore.
#2. Pretend You are the Host
We don’t mean lie and pretend like you own the building or the house, but rather treat all the other guest as if you were responsible for making them feel welcome and comfortable. If you take ownership of this it can be much easier to approach people, start conversations, and make connections. It will also help you feel like you belong there too.
#3. It’s not Me, It’s You!
People love to talk about themselves. Ask a lot of questions and be interested in the answers. Your conversation doesn’t have to be about business either. You will eventually get around to that anyway. Ask the person if they know anyone else there, if they have plans for the weekend, and what they like about the organization (if applicable). If you find yourself at a loss for what to say, a thoughtful and genuine compliment usually does the trick. I really like your shirt, glasses, blue bow tie, purse, etc.
As you gather information, collect business cards, and make connections be sure to remember who you most want to follow up with. Get creative with it too. A quick email the next day is always good. But a handwritten note is even better. Be sure to reference something you talked about. Jot down a few things on their business card while you are talking to them (or right after) and it will be easier to recall when you go to follow up.
Other creative ways to follow up with people include:
- Follow them on social media and connect that way
- Look them up on LinkedIn
- Google them. It might seem stalker-ish at first, but you can learn a lot about their professional careers including articles they published, awards, boards and organizations they belong to, and much more.
Just remember, how ever you follow-up, just be sure to do it soon after the event.
Related: Interview Follow-Up: Just Do It!
We hope these tips help you change from “I hate networking” to “I love networking!” as you prepare for your next event and search for the next opportunity.
Happy Career Hunting! We are here for you!
Need more job search advice?
For more insights and a community of like-minded professionals join our LinkedIn group Resume Help and Advice for Professionals and Executives