How to Network Like a Pro–Even If You’re Shy, Introverted, or Really Just Hate Doing It

The ability to network – to develop contacts and personal connections with a variety of people who might be helpful to you and your career – is a critical skill for any of us. A deep and varied network of trusted colleagues can help when searching for new business partners, when seeking investment opportunities, when looking for sources of capital or opportunities to develop your own skills, or even when looking for another job.

But chatting up strangers at a networking event isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. In fact, it can be so terrifying for some people that they avoid networking events altogether. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are some simple and effective tips you can use immediately to turn networking into a strength, rather than something you fear and avoid.

1. Bring a friend

One simple, but very effective tip is to bring a friend. This can help in a number of ways. First, it can often help you get the event itself (instead of coming up with reasons to avoid it). And then at the event, it’s nice to have a go-to person you can lean on for introductions or even just as a friendly face in case conversations elsewhere start to dry up. Of course, you don’t want to lean on a friend too much during the event, because in some ways that defeats the purpose. But used judiciously, a friend can be a tremendous asset and is often the first thing I suggest to people afraid of networking.

2. Have a reasonable goal

Don’t feel you need to “work the room” and collect 50 business cards. Instead, keep your goals realistic. Decide as a goal that you want to make two or three good connections during the event – and then everything else is gravy. I find that having a reasonable goal like this makes networking much more doable for people who worry about their ability to ‘work a room.’

3. Find times of the day that work best for you

Not all of us are early birds – so that 7am before work networking event might just not be your cup of tea. Perhaps you do better in the evening – in which case, you should look for those types of events to go to. The point is to know when you’ll likely be at your best and at your most comfortable and make that knowledge work for you.

4. Find events that fit your personality

If you get intimidated by huge events, don’t go to them, unless you absolutely have to (and in that case use tip #1 and bring a friend). Perhaps small events are more your cup of tea. And if so, seek those out instead.

5. Reward yourself for taking the leap

And then finally… reward yourself at the end for doing something outside your comfort zone. Take that walk with your friend. Do some yoga. Have a drink – or lunch – or a snack at your favorite restaurant. Whatever it is — do something rejuvenating and rewarding because you deserve it!

You may never love networking. But if you can learn to make the types of minor adjustments I describe above, you might end up surprising yourself.


Originally posted on Inc.com

REACH NEW COVERAVAILABLE JANUARY 2017
Reach A New Strategy to Help You Step Outside Your Comfort Zone 

According to Andy Molinsky, an expert on behavior in the business world, there are five key challenges underlying our avoidance tendencies: authenticity, competence, resentment, likability and morality. Does the new behavior you’re attempting feel authentic to you? Is it the right thing to do? Answering these questions will help identify the “gap” in our behavioral style that we can then bridge by using the three Cs: Clarity, Conviction, and Customization. Perhaps most interesting, Molinsky has discovered that many people who confront what they were avoiding come to realize that they actually enjoy it, and can even be good at it.

Learn More

Related Posts

How to Not Let Fear Drive Your Decisions (Hint: Ask these 3 Questions)

How to Not Let Fear Drive Your Decisions (Hint: Ask these 3 Questions)

As Helen walked up the stairs and towards Dean Johnston’s office, she realized she had probably walked up these same stairs a thousand times – though never for a reason like this.

Read More

REACH Interview Series: Emma Seppälä, Ph.D

REACH Interview Series: Emma Seppälä, Ph.D

The Reach Interview Series is an informal dialogue between me and respected thought leaders around the theme of my new book,  Reach: A New Strategy to Help You Step Outside Your Comfort Zone, Rise to the Challenge and Build Confidence.

Read More

How to Not Be Trapped Inside Your Comfort Zone

How to Not Be Trapped Inside Your Comfort Zone

I’ve recently been fixated on a fantastic radio podcast about young entrepreneurs in New York and Silicon Valley called “Start Up,” which tells the tale of going from nothing to building a company from scratch.

Read More

The Big Challenge of American Small Talk

The Big Challenge of American Small Talk

You are a new expatriate manager at the American subsidiary of your German firm in Chicago.

Read More