I hear from a lot of people that they don’t enjoy “networking.” Networking, in this case, being defined as going to an event (where you may not know anyone) with the intention of making new connections.
Depending on your profession, this may be considered a necessity. However, after teaching and coaching people to be high-achievers, I’ve learned that networking to some degree is critical to everyone, regardless of what you do for a living.
- “I hate small talk.”
- “It’s so ‘surfacey’ and fake.”
- “I can’t sell myself.”
- “It’s intimidating to just walk up to someone I don’t know.”
- “Everyone seems to be talking to someone else, and I don’t want to interrupt.”
- “I’m an introvert.”
These are all fair reasons, and they’re all fairly common too. It’s completely natural to feel uncomfortable in such a fabricated environment. I don’t feel comfortable in these environments either. I have to force myself to get engaged.
Yeah, imagine being the guy with the creepy mustache trying to meet new people.
I’ll be honest. I’m a fairly outgoing person, but this was tough. It felt like I had just eaten a poppy seed bagel with spinach cream cheese…you don’t even have to look in the mirror to know you have something in your teeth. That’s what I was thinking. Everyone is distracted by this ridiculous mustache and not taking me seriously. (note: click here for why I’m sporting a mustache)
But here’s a tip for successful networking. It has nothing to do with how to start a conversation, or how to work a room. This has nothing to do with technical strategies for effective networking.
TIP: Jot down your intentions for the networking event (what you want to get from it) and how you want to “show up” at the event (what unique gifts and talents you want to display).
Here’s a few things I wrote the other day before rolling up to a random networking event.
What are my intentions?
- I want to get to know at least 6 people well enough that I would feel comfortable calling them the next day to continue the conversation.
- I want to meet people in their 30’s that are in high-stress environments and believe that there is more to life than just work.
- I want to have some fun!
How do I want to show up?
Believe me, it makes a difference. With those intentions and those talents on display, it was impossible NOT to meet great people AND have a ton of fun. It’s that simple.
What are your thoughts on networking or meeting new people? Have any stories to share (either successes or mishaps)?
Leave a comment below and let us know!