I used to consider networking a necessary evil. Something you know you should do, but never actually like doing. You know, like exercising.
But recently, I’ve come to embrace, and dare I say it, enjoy networking 😮
So, what’s changed?
Now there are loads of articles out there telling you why you need to network, how to network and why following up is so important, which is all very nice, but I want to share my less conventional thoughts with you. So here goes:
Life is short, use your time wisely
If the thought of an event bores you to tears then I can guarantee the event itself will too, so don’t do it to yourself.
Skip the obligatory industry lunch and find something that genuinely excites you. Think outside the box and don’t worry if it’s not corporate or related to your industry. Look at meetups and local events. You will find genuine connections are formed over common interests, so let your interests guide you.
Go it alone
There is a strong temptation to go with a colleague or a friend, but let’s be honest, having them there is a security blanket and it stops you from putting yourself out there and meeting people, which is the whole purpose of networking.
So put your big girl pants on and go it alone.
Take 1 business card only
And that is for the lucky door prize raffle. Although others disagree, I think handing out business cards feels sleazy and that in today’s technologically connected world, they’re unnecessary.
If you make a genuine connection with someone and want to exchange details, then share your details from your phone. Not only does this feel more natural, it’s far more practical and foolproof. Gone are the days of rummaging around at the bottom of your bag for that card or wondering if it ended up going through the wash.
Plus, it’s better for the environment.
Know when to leave
Don’t feel you have to stay until the end of an event. Sometimes a short and sweet appearance feels more manageable than a long drawn out affair, so give yourself permission to leave early if you want to, but on the condition that you to bring you A-game whilst you’re there.
Don’t feel disheartened
Do not stress if you don’t share details with anyone at an event. Networking is about the long game and you won’t always connect with people at a function, so don’t force it.
Also, in our hyper-connected world, it is easy to find people. If you make a great impression, people will find you all on their own, when the time is right.
Networking isn’t a big deal
Every chat you have, every day is a networking opportunity. Be curious and engaged in your conversations and tell people what you do and be of service to others when you can.
No seriously, it’s not.
We’ve all hyped it up but it’s just talking to people. That simple.
It doesn’t get easier than that!