Networking and making conversation with people can be downright scary. Maybe you’ve previously never had to hustle, you’re a new grad, you’re in a new career or you are forcing your introverted side to be extroverted. We get it. Talking to people you don’t know can be awkward. That’s exactly why we encourage you to embrace your weirdness, be yourself and use the below tips to get out of the corner or out from under the table and talk to people.
Tip 1: Utilize Socials
Raise your hand if you are on Instagram, LinkedIn, SnapChat or Facebook. Now that you’ve confessed to spending too much time on social media, we suggest using it to your advantage. Don’t even try to deny that you’ve used the aforementioned networks to stalk someone and gather some background information or that you’ve then used that info your advantage. The same concept applies for networking. If you have an upcoming networking event, see who has RSVP’d through Eventbrite or Facebook and connect with them on LinkedIn. Then just start a conversation from the safety of your computer. Bam! Now you know someone.
Tip 2: Use Your Industry
If you are a PR practitioner, chances are you’ve heard of the West Michigan Public Relations Society of America, which is a professional organization dedicated to educating and connecting people who are working within the industry. There is an association or organization for literally every profession. A simple Google search will turn up dozens. Find out when they are having an upcoming event, register and refer back to Tip 1.
Tip 3: Buddy System
If you are a big scaredy cat and don’t want to adult by heading to an event alone, grab a colleague or friend to attend with you. Do us all a favor and grab a drink with your buddy before to loosen up. Then come prepared to dazzle us with your conversational prowess. Keep in mind: bringing a friend does not excuse you from making conversation with other people.
Tip 4: You Graduated From College
Chances are if you attended college, there’s an alumni group you can join. Even if you are not from around these parts, many colleges have alumni spread throughout the world. Refer to Tip 1, find them with your superior sleuthing skills and connect. One-on-one connections are just as valuable as group networking.
Tip 5: Volunteer
Here’s a hypothetical: say you’re going to an event that benefits cats and the networking potential is gonna be amazing, but you’ll know absolutely no one there. So, what do you do? Anyone who hosts an event for cat lovers is going to be tied to a nonprofit that is dedicated to cats. What do nonprofits always need? That’s right. Volunteers. Call them up (okay, email or use Tip 1) and ask if you can assist with event set-up or registration. If you are working the registration table, you are talking to every single person that walks in the door, and it’s all for the good of the cats. These are only a few of our amazing tips. We’re willing to give you more and share our networking horror stories with you…but you have to do something for us. It’s actually pretty simple. Share this awesome blog (written by Kim), and tag us on the socials (see Tip 1). Got it? Cool.
P.S. We can always be bribed to attend with you if there are free beverages of the alcoholic nature.