Networking can be a challenge for most of us including myself. There’s something about mingling with new people and hoping not to come across opportunistic. In the past, I personally struggled with this and would gradually resort to standing in a corner solo sipping my cocktail.
Over time I realized I had to do something about this. I couldn’t grow as an individual or professional if I continued to isolate myself in social settings. After all, what’s the point of securing an RSVP, getting cute, making an entrance, and not speaking to anyone?
It really boils down to being yourself as cheesy as that may sound. Granted, we all put our best faces on in the beginning, but people are most connected to those who are unapologetically themselves (aka Cardi B). There’s simply something trusting about that trait.
Below I’ve compiled 3 keys that have immensely helped me gain and keep new relationships while networking.
Have your intentions in check and be upfront with what you have going on. Be sure to offer a resource or service before asking for anything. It’s so common for people to ask for something before even offering anything.
Definitely, don’t do things expecting a return. Most people have a really good sense of those who are trying to get something from them. Don’t be one of those social climbers no wants around.
In all the networking I’ve done I rarely ask for anything out the gate. I understand the importance of allowing someone to get to know me and get a feel of who I am. I’m usually the one offering something to be of assistance, which in actuality makes me memorable in the long run.
Sidebar: I once worked an event a few years ago and positioned myself in front of a VP from BET. During our conversation, she mentioned the importance of offering something to people before asking for anything. For example, if your speaking to someone who works in marketing maybe send them over the latest platform that influencers are gravitating to. In the long run, this will help you stand out from the pack.
Use this gesture when meeting new people and watch it immensely impacts what other think of you and say about you.
Yes, share things about yourself, but make room for others to speak about themselves. Entrepreneurs are especially excited to share what they have going on or what they’ve done. Stop and pay closer attention. Here is where all the tea and gems you’ve been waiting to hear start to surface.
Stay engaged and ask relevant questions to the conversation. Don’t worry about your phone or what’s going on across the room. Always give your undivided attention. You don’t want to miss something you’ll later regret.
Sidebar: Don’t get too buddy buddy with just one person all night. Whenever networking especially if you’re in attendance alone it’s your obligation to work the room. Spend between 10 to 20 minutes max with one person you really hit it off then discuss keeping in contact to start making your exit.
It’s super easy to get comfortable with one person, but your goal is to mix and mingle. Make it a mission to stay out your comfort zone. This is how you consistently grow as an individual.
Take Nothing Personal
Last, but not least, stay out your feelings.
This is non-negotiable. Some people will be about themselves and unfamiliar to the etiquette of networking. All that matters is how you respond to it. At the end of the day, your reputation is on the line so be cognizant of how you react to things.
Even if a relationship dissolves keep it cute and cordial. I’ve dealt with a few people in the past who’ve burnt me, but I take it as a lesson not personal. You can’t allow someone else’s wrongdoing halt your hustle. The more time you spend reflecting or talking about the matter takes away from your productivity.
After applying these tactics I no longer stand awkwardly in corners at social settings. I’ve learned to just be honest and genuine with those I’ve been wanting to meet.
Sidebar: If there is alcohol being served stick to a 2 drink maximum. People are watching and most are probably judging so keep it cute and only stick to 2.
Now say yes to your next event invite and start making those amazing connections!