Are you someone who dreads the idea of networking? The thought of engaging in small talk and mingling with strangers can be quite overwhelming. But fear not, networking doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Here’s a helpful strategy to navigate these uncomfortable situations:
Seek out fellow hesitant networkers. Remember, you’re not alone in feeling this way. When attending an in-person event, take a moment to observe your surroundings. Chances are, you’ll find someone standing alone or in a group but not actively participating in conversations. Approach them and strike up a conversation.
Transform networking into a game. If you’re an introvert, try adopting the persona of an extroverted character in a video game. Challenge yourself to earn points by initiating conversations with new people. It may sound a bit silly, but this imaginative approach can be surprisingly effective.
Discover shared interests. Instead of worrying about how to make small talk, focus on finding common ground with the person you’re conversing with. Prior to networking events, take some time to consider your own hobbies and interests, such as gardening, reading, or learning new technologies. This way, you can steer conversations toward topics you feel comfortable discussing.
Reframe your perception of networking. Networking doesn’t always mean meeting new people. Consider reaching out to friends from previous jobs or colleagues you’ve had limited contact with. Propose a low-pressure gathering, like meeting for coffee or scheduling a casual Zoom call. This allows you to connect with familiar faces and build relationships in a more relaxed setting.
By implementing these tips, you can redefine your networking experience and make it less intimidating. Remember, everyone has their own unique approach to networking, so find what works best for you.