The very thought of filling your pocket with business cards, trekking off to the next association event, throwing yourself all over the prospective client/hiring manager/volunteer/waitress, just sends shivers down your spine right? Some people would rather schedule a dentist appointment than go to a networking event. People hate it so badly they’ll pay almost any amount of money or hide behind a computer screen and call it social networking, just to avoid being “The Networker.”
Although we all know the “natural networkers,” most of us do network regularly, but we don’t think about it until we’re in a panic looking for a job. Think of it like this: when you were learning to ride a bike, what was your biggest fear? It probably wasn’t falling off the bike. That was secondary. The first terror was that your escort would let go of the seat! “IF YOU LOVE ME YOU WON’T LET GO!” you screamed before reluctantly pedaling.
Maybe it’s like the guy you know who is a wonderful person and you can’t wait to set him up with the girl who’s just perfect for him. Only when it’s on the line, he’s acting like a completely different person than the one you know. More than a dufas than you could’ve ever imagined!
Enough with the analogies. This is what networking forces us to do again later in life. We have to perform when the game is on the line. When we’re trying, we’re usually trying too hard but we have to push out of our comfort zone. Making connections can’t be that hard…right???
Here are some very helpful tips on just how to network:
- Be proactive – Always look for a way to connect, preferably, other than business.
- You’ve done this before – Q. How did you get the friends you have now? A. Networking.
- People really do want to help – How do you feel when someone asks you for the name of your dry cleaners?
- Talk. Don’t sell. Make a real connection. If you’re talking about the weather, you’re wasting their time and yours.
- Try to connect others. One way to calm your fears is to go in trying to connect two other people to each other. They’ll both remember you for it.
Realize that others have the same insecurities you do. Remember your first kiss? How you were scared to death and wandered how you’d pull it off? Well, it turns out they were wandering how to kiss you too.
It’s like the movie Hitch with Kevin James and Will Smith. If you lean in 90%, she’ll lean the other 10%. Make the effort. Keep finding ways to connect. Keep Thinking!