Do you freeze with fear at the prospect of attending a networking event? Making contacts at trade shows or cocktail parties can feel intimidating to many of us, but it’s vital to your long-term career success. Get over your nerves and start forging new professional relationships with these tips:
• Know what you have to offer.
Successful networkers concentrate on what they can do for others, not what their contacts can do for them. When introducing yourself and meeting new people, stay focused on your own strengths and be ready to offer help whenever appropriate.
• Cast a wide net.
Don’t limit your search for contacts to people in your industry. Get involved in community groups and nonprofits where you’ll meet a variety of people in different professions. You’ll get a better perspective on what’s possible and be exposed to a broader array of ideas.
• Help people feel comfortable.
You’re not the only nervous person in the room. Seek out people who are by themselves and looking for someone to talk to. You can share experiences as you get to know one another, and maybe team up to meet more people.
• Find common ground.
You have a unique set of skills and experiences to share, but you’ll make a good first impression by looking for what you have in common with other people. Seek connections—people, places, previous jobs, etc.—that you can build on as you get to know more about each other’s strengths and goals.