Sunday 26 May 2019

Get over your networking fear once and for all

Alice Murray - Independent Jobs

If the thought of networking makes your skin crawl, you’re not alone. According to research by Francesca Gino, people hate the thought of professional socialising so much that it actually makes them feel dirty.

But the truth is that networking can actually be enjoyable if you do it correctly. Here are just a few things that you can do to nip your networking phobia in the bud once and for all.

Start small

Networking events and conferences can be overwhelming. If you’d rather start small, try networking online. When you connect with someone new on LinkedIn, take the next step and send them a message. Introduce yourself and quickly get to the point. Why are you emailing them and why is it worth their time?

Concentrate on friendship

A lot of people mistake networking for schmoozing, i.e. intensive ass-kissing. This really isn’t the case (if you’re doing it properly). Think of networking as another way of making friends (or acquaintances at the very least). How would you approach someone in a gym class or at a sports club? The same rules apply. Just be polite, friendly and conversational.

Think about what you have to offer

Remember that networking is a two-way street. Before your next event think about what you can give to others, not what you want to gain. Framing networking in this way will help you to see it as a positive experience. If you help some people along the way surely that’s a good thing.

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Practice networking with people outside your profession

If you’re nervous about networking with people in your industry, practice on outsiders first. You might pick up some social media tips or find out interesting sales tactics. Meeting people from outside your field of work will help open your eyes to new opportunities. Take an interest in people no matter what their career is and networking will start to become a lot more natural.

Focus on the basics

When networking you should always remember the basics of good body language; stand up straight, maintain eye contact and listen intently. These actions will make you look more approachable, they will also help you to appear confident, even if you’re nervous on the inside.

Remember you’re just as good as anyone else

A lot of people fear networking because they feel underqualified or insecure. The dreaded imposter syndrome can take hold when we are at work or industry events. It’s easy to think, ”Why would that person want to talk to me?” or ”I’ll just annoy them.”. That’s usually not the case. Remember you are just as important as anyone else.

Have a sense of humour

Networking gets easier over time but a lot of people will always find it daunting. When you are faced with an awkward silence or a cringeworthy moment, don't forget to have a sense of humour. Laugh about the difficult situations and you’ll go far.

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