I know networking and talking to people you’re not too familiar with can be scary. I do presentations on networking and professional etiquette. One of the things I always touch on are tips for networking and how important it is.
Networking is a way to develop relationships that help you gain insight into an industry, a company, or a career path. Given that 65-85% of jobs are found through networking, it should be the focus of about 80% of your allotted search time for a job.
Here are some useful tips for everyday networking to use at your next cocktail party or business function.
1. It's Kind of like Your First Day of School
Remember what it was like on your first day of school? Or the new job? Perhaps a first date? That stuff can be scary! We get nervous, start to sweat, and clam up. You don’t know what to say first, who you should go up to talk to, or how to balance your plate and drink at the same time. Fear not! You’re all in the same ship and I guarantee you, there are other people in that room that are more nervous than you are.
Do not hesitate to go up and introduce yourself to someone. Be calm and confident, as any Indie Chick would be. Everyone gravitates to the first person to break the ice and sees them as a leader. Be that person.
2. Have Your "Elevator Pitch" Ready to Go
For example: you step into an elevator with the CEO of a company, and you have exactly two minutes on your ride in the elevator to pitch him/her your business proposal. This is the same concept, but for yourself (which is so much easier). Have at least four to five bullet points about yourself that you want the other person to know about you that will lead into a conversation. This can include your job, extracurricular activities, favorite sports team, or where you’re from. Or as I like to call them-fun facts.
These should be easy to think of and easy to remember, and you can alter those points for the type of event you’re going to.
3. Make Sure Your Business Cards Are in Stock
Isn’t it frustrating when you hit it off with a potential employer and you (or sometimes them) do not have any business cards on them? Make sure you have them in stock, at all times. If you’re currently looking for a job but don't have business cards, VistaPrint has FREE business cards.
Business cards are an inexpensive way to show that you're professional and that you take yourself seriously. No more scrawling phone numbers on palms or cocktail napkins. You're an adult now, a professional, so get those cards printed.
4. Have a Conversation with Someone
Don’t you hate it when you’re talking to someone face to face and they just look at you with the zombie blank stare? Do not be that girl! Make sure you give the person you are talking to your undivided attention. To show that you’re listening, ask them follow up questions or for their opinions. They will appreciate you more if you show that you’re taking a true interest in what they’re saying.
Some of this comes naturally to people and sometimes it doesn’t. It takes practice to get a good grove of networking and talking with people you are unfamiliar with. Practice makes perfect! Try your elevator pitch on friends, start small by introducing yourself to people at social parties and work your way up to work events. I promise you'll get more comfortable the more you do it.
If you’re searching for a job or looking for the next step in your career, then these networking tips will definitely help you makes a fantastic first impression at your next networking function!
Share a time that you were wildly successful at networking in the comment section.
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