How To Network: How to Network Like You Love It|
One of the most important parts of working in any office or business environment is being able to enjoy the people around you– whether for eight hours a day or fourteen. This important aspect of a work atmosphere is why networking is so valuable and something everyone should learn to love. In the grand scheme of things, talking to a single person and seeking advice from him or her often makes that person like you more; then that person puts you in contact with their friend, uncle, cousin, brother-in-law, etc. at that firm where you just sent your resume and so the lines between advice, meetings, lunches and interviews slowly overlap and the next thing you know you have an offer on the table (see plenty of other articles to see where to go from here) at your dream job- and it all began with networking.
So for your own good, remember that networking is not only beneficial in the short run but sets you up for an environment where you already have a good sense of the culture and atmosphere and maybe even a couple of “work friends.” Remember: networking is not just about you. The people you chat with may also be looking for something, and your willingness to address these wishes can create a mutually beneficial relationship.
Don’t be Afraid
Walking into a room of people you do not know can be scary- really, really scary. However, this fear does not excuse opening with the line, “God, I could use a drink” to break the ice at a networking event.
If you are at one of these functions, nearly everyone is in the same boat you are– so stop worrying about sounding stupid and try to learn a thing or two from the people around you.
Your resume is a list of your accomplishments, but just like all good products, your resume could always use some marketing. You are a brand, and no brand can thrive without a great marketing team; only in this case you are both the product and the team (if that gets you down, think about this: who better for the job?).
Whether you are shy, nervous, or extraverted, there is a “marketing strategy” that will allow you to thrive in any situation. Networking is really about letting the best version of you shine and let other people see personality-wise why you were able to accomplish all the things listed on that single piece of paper. If you are worried that your nerves or your personality is holding you back, focus on the positives of these qualities. If you are “shy”, find the other person in the room lingering by the food and strike up a conversation- most other people may avoid this person, but who knows what he or she has to offer.
Being “quiet” can also prompt you to be a better listener and ask more insightful questions, often then you get the other person talking about himself or herself, and that person is often quite thrilled about that opportunity. If you are extraverted, well, just be careful not to interrupt or dominate the conversation too much; think about ending whatever you are saying with a question or ask an opinion from the other person on his or her industry. Overall, be a go-getter.
What may feel overbearing, or even worse, creepy, to you can often come off as enthusiastic (most of the time) to others. Most importantly, however, try always to get beyond the surface with the person to whom you are talking. Avoid stock questions just because the person works at a place you like or because you know he or she is important. It’s easy to leave a good impression if you care about the topic of discussion. Remember, the conversation should be as much about what you are looking for as what the other person is seeking; they may know why you are there but that does not excuse walking up and listing your resume and asking for a job, take the time to get to know the person. The tactic also offers an opportunity to gain insider insight that can help in the future (aka, your interview, hint hint).
flirt a little…
Be charming! Whether you’re talking to a man or woman, sometimes thinking about the situation as an effort to court someone can make you more at ease, because it puts your partner in a more equal light while still motivating you to put forth an effort to build a relationship.
Often, seeking out overall value will cause the person to react positively and be more excited (rather than just willing) to help you and see you succeed. “Flirting” can trigger a more engaging and charismatic way of speaking that will help avoid becoming a Q-and-A drone; banter and wit, and even maybe a disagreement or two, will give the conversation more depth and make you more memorable.
Networking events in particular have a lot more to offer than free food. They offer a chance to show yourself off and get to know other great people. If they are at the event, remember, they are there to meet people just like you so stick out your hand and start shaking left and right. If you are a bundle of nerves, remember that just like anything else, the more you do it the more it feels natural and less intimidating. I have found that often people are happy to reach out and stay in contact with you if you make the effort and know what you are after.
P.S. Do not think that all networking comes in the form of “events.” That little website that you joined, LinkedIn, is as useful as almost any event you attend if you use it correctly.
5 Ways to Up Your Networking Game:
1. Always have your elevator pitch at the ready… you never know!
2. Always have a business card or some source of contact information on you.
3. Remember that phrase “dress for the job you want, not the job you have?” Exactly. If you are going to an event for a different industry, “dress to impress” that crowd, whatever that may mean.
5. Get excited about what may happen. Networking is a time for possibility.
Put these skills to the test at Levo Events! We are a welcoming community, ready to help anyone who takes advantage of the opportunity to venture over to the Labs in NYC for our Wine Wednesdays or afternoon teas. Look forward to seeing you around the office!