Keith Ferrazzi, author of Never Eat Alone a best-seller on networking for professional success once said, “Networking isn’t smarmy”. Instead, it is a buzzword for building sincere relationships based on mutual generosity. Good networks help you find jobs, recruit talent, and helps you find clients and investors.
However, for introverts –geeks especially—for whom it feels insincere or manipulative, networking is a trial of sorts. They are afraid of rejection. It is much easier to avoid it but by doing just that it indirectly undermines their careers, their projects and themselves as a person.
So how do you try getting past your networking demons, learn to appreciate them and make the best out of each opportunity? Consider these following tips;
#Tip 1 – Be Prepared
Before you enter the room, a group event or dinner party, make sure you do your homework. Find out who will be there. Think critically about your objectives for the networking function. What information do you want to walk away with? What do you want to convey to the people you meet?
Approach networking opportunities with a game plan and whatever you do, you should not wing it.
#Tip 2 – Time your entry
No, we do not mean you make a grand entrance at the event. Confetti and all.
It requires some art for you to walk up and join a group already engaged in a lively discussion. Plus it can be intimidating. Don’t push your way in and blurt out opinions. That can make a bad first impression and kill the flow of conversation. The best way to ease your way in without causing discomfort is to just smile and listen for a moment to under the gist of the conversation.
Then, when there is an opportunity, pose a question to the group. It helps build credibility by asking a question. For someone shy, asking questions may be much easier than launching into a speech or sharing an opinion.
#Tip 3 – Carry a lot of Business cards
Never leave your office without your business cards. They are an effective way for you to leave your name behind so that people remember who you are. This is especially true if you are an introvert. If networking is a lot to handle for you, do not squander any of the contacts you have.
Do not let the opportunity go to waste but take advantage of every opportunity by offering your business cards to prospective contacts. Just offer one to them and let them know it’s okay to reach out. Very likely, they will offer their card in return. And now you have made a solid, repeatable connection.
#Tip 4 – Listen more to be heard
Everyone loves to talk about themselves. Many people don’t listen when others talk; they might be quiet, but they are just waiting for a chance to talk again. If you are shy, listening is easier than talking. To become a good listener, don’t ignore the conversation. Listen.
If you let people discuss their experiences and opinions – and listen with sincere interest – they will remember that they had a great conversation with you. And you didn’t have to say much at all.
#Tip 5 – Leverage on natural human curiosity
Think of a list of go-to questions that can get you through the first few minutes of the meet. There’s no one on earth who doesn’t enjoy talking about themselves. Learn what brand they work on, and ask them about the things you know about their business. We got into marketing because we like knowing what makes people tick and this not only provides an opportunity for stories but also is a great way to find common interests.
Above all, don’t forget to just be your wonderful self and enjoy the networking session.