A net is something that butterflies get caught in. Work is the opposite of play. It is no wonder that some get all antsy when it comes to Networking. Granted networking can be seen as a daunting venture into the unknown, however nothing ventured yields nothing gained. Unlike a butterfly net, networking opens doors and gives you more freedom to spread your wings. Unlike work, networking can be fun. Here are some tips on how to comfortably put yourself out there and establish more circles of opportunity.
• Hot Topics – If you’re afraid about not having something to say, prepare some prompts that will frame potential conversations. Open ended questions keep the conversation going (unlike ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ questions) and puts the focus on the other person. However don’t take a passive role, it’s your job to listen attentively and chime appropriately to keep the ball rolling.
• Create a Cushion – Set aside time before networking to prepare your mindset and afterwards for some assessment and downtime.
• Build or Join a Group – There are many professional networking sites and social media sites where you can join or establish a group with similar interests or goals. Participation in such groups allows you to connect with like-minded individuals and strengthen your network while advancing career and personal objectives.
• Practice on Family, Friends, and Colleagues – if it is challenging to open up to new people, try a test run with those who already know you. The ones that know you well will be able to give you productive pointers. In addition you can tighten the bond with those that are looser associations, as a primer, before progressing on to new people.
• Relax and Be Yourself – Enjoy what is original about you and others will be charmed by that. Don’t hide behind a front of saying and being what you ‘think’ people like. People are more drawn to the authentic than to the phony, so it’s best to just believe in the person that you are and honor that.