Business networking. Two words guaranteed to fill almost anyone with dread. The idea of putting yourself out there, actively marketing yourself, and (gasp) actually talking to people can be overwhelming for most, particularly those of us who are introverted or struggle with shyness. However, networking can be a hugely important tool, whether you work for yourself or someone else, and the sooner you master the art, the sooner you can start using it to boost your career.
1 Be yourself
People always respond to genuineness and authenticity, so the more able you are to be yourself, the better. You’ll be remembered positively, and any potential contacts will be more likely to call you should they ever need your services.
2 Establish your goals
Are you looking to build awareness of your brand and skill set? Are you looking to make connections with people in your industry? Are you looking to move jobs? If you’re clear on your personal goals from the outset, you’ll be more focused and more likely to achieve the successful outcome you’re looking for.
3 Ask questions
Swallow that shyness and ask questions. Not only will it give you the opportunity to find out valuable information, you’ll also be directly engaging with others in your industry and forming a rapport – one that you’ll hopefully be able to build on later.
4 Be an active participant
Keep an eye out for any networking events in your area and attend as many as you can. While you might feel nervous at your first few meetings, the more you attend, the more comfortable you’ll start to feel – and you might start seeing familiar faces, too. What’s more, you’ll open yourself up to a wide audience of potential contacts and referrals, giving yourself the best chance for career advancement.
Whether you’re leading a meeting, or simply attending one, follow these guidelines in order to maximise their efficiency.