Networking for many people can be a stressful experience. When attending a networking event, you have to strike up a conversation with people you don’t know. You are mindful of everything you do, concerned about the impression you are making. It is even more anxiety producing if you have an introverted personality. If networking gives you the jitters, here are a few tips to help.
1. Know that others feel as you do
Remember that you are not the only one who feels uncomfortable at the prospect of networking. Many people at a networking event are feeling self-conscious, even a bit out of place. Some may even be hoping for another person to come along and start and conversation, so take the initiative and talk to people.
2. Develop some talking points
Take some time to prepare some conversation starters and discussion topics beforehand. Jot down a few notes that will help with your interactions. You don’t want to write down a complete speech or script, but just a few ideas that will help you get things started.
3. Use social media
Before the event, use sites like Twitter or LinkedIn to get to know other participants. If you can create a rapport with some of the people, it will be easier to network with them at the actual event.
4. Be inquisitive
Networking is about learning, and to learn, you need to ask questions, to be curious about the other person, who they are and what they do. People enjoy talking about themselves and their interests. Asking questions is a great way to get to know people.
5. Be a good listener
Effective communication is about listening as well as talking. You want to talk, but you need to listen as well. That means focusing on what the other person has to say. Being a good listener also demonstrates your interest in the other person, which helps you to connect.
6. Take breaks
Networking is stressful and fatiguing. You need some time occasionally to rest and recover and reenergize. So taking breaks during the event is important.
7. Try to have some fun
A networking event should be enjoyable, so try to relax and go with the flow. Loosen up, smile, look confident and enthusiastic, and you will have much greater success at the event.