Networking is a term that many people dread. Like eating healthy; we know it’s good for us but not always the easiest to do! Another great comparison to career networking is dating! Going to an event to network with people you really don’t know and trying to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger is kind of like going out on a first date. Networking, much like dating, for many people can become a dreaded chore. One that you’re uncomfortable doing and therefore put off, avoid, and don’t get around to!
However networking, like dating, can lead to something great and amazing. It doesn’t have to be something you dread or loath to do, it’s all about how you look at it!
#1 Remember your Why.
On your first date, or speaking to someone at an event, you are there to get to know each other and most importantly to have fun!
#2 It’s all about developing a relationship.
When you go on a date you are laying the foundation to hopefully build a lasting relationship. The same rules apply to networking, try and remember it’s about developing a relationship and foundation that your network can grow from.
#3 Get to know them.
On a date if you don’t ask the questions to get to know someone, you usually will sit there in awkward silence. This won’t help to get you to a second date! The same rules apply to networking; ask questions and try to get to know the other person.
#4 Don’t think of them as a stranger.
When you are set up on a blind date by one of your friends, the person sitting across from you is technically a stranger, but you were probably paired with them for a reason. You have things in common! Naturally when we strike a conversation with someone, it’s because something has drawn you to that person. Figure out your commonality and it will help the conversation along with the connection.
#5 Have good intentions.
When you are dating someone, it is with hope that they have good intentions for the relationship. Nobody wants to date someone that is only using them to get ahead. The same rule applies to networking. When you’re at an event, you aren’t there to try to figure out who is the best connection or what they can do for you. Remember nobody wants to feel used.
#6 Follow up.
With dating it takes time and investment to figure out and form an ongoing relationship. The same is said for networking. Meeting someone and getting their contact information is only the first step in many steps to building a lasting relationship. It’s not about how many business cards you can collect! Make an effort to show you are interested in building a professional relationship!
#7 Don’t be afraid of rejection.
Not every date you go turns out to be the love of your life. So know that not every person you meet will turn out to be a great career connection. You don’t always click with everyone and that is okay!
The most important tip is to have fun, get out there, and meet people! If you can’t meet your soul mate by sitting on your couch, your career sure isn’t going to start from there either!