How to network like it's your job
Who hasn't heard that networking is one of the keys to success? "Its not about what you know. It's about who you know" was coined to re-frame, exactly, this point. Even though this is one of the most important things you can do, it seems many people have no clue where to start!
We have scoured the internet in search of the top things you need to know about networking to take your career to the next level. In today's extremely competitive market, effective networking is a tool that could tip the scales in your favor. In the words of Sonia Sotomayor, "To succeed in this world you have to be known to people." Every relationship you build has the potential to change your future, so here are 5 tips on how to get out there and network like it's your job!
1. Practice Does Indeed Make Perfect
If you have never actively attempted to network before, it can be an extremely intimidating process, but don't let that derail you. The bottom line is this: the more you do it, the better you become. Begin by attending casual events, with a little more laid back or relaxed feel, like Pints & Preneurs. In these settings there is no hard expectation for you to be at the top of your game or for you to have your pitch on deck. Start simple conversations and ask lots of questions so that you can listen and learn about people. No one likes the Dictator who completely hijacks every conversation and makes it all about himself or herself, so be mindful of how much give and take you bring to the table.
2. Work the Crowd
To quote Business Network "Networking is a contact sport. You have to get out and connect with people". Unfortunately, networking tends to an activity that is outside of many people's comfort zone. For this reason, many individuals will find one "friend" in a networking event and stay glued to that person for the entirety of the event. Let go of your nerves! Not only are you diminishing your chances of making a valuable connection by being a social chicken, but odds are you're also diminishing your friend's chances, as well, so relax, breath, and then get to work connecting with new faces.
3. Engage on Social Media
Its hard to think that you can accomplish meaningful networking behind a screen, but with the turn of the century it's hard to avoid the inevitable social media movement. The key to using this strategy is to remember that social media is just that--social. Common etiquette dictates that the material you post should be conversational, thought-provoking, and/or engaging in nature. Effectively market yourself on your own accounts by focusing on your strengths and showcasing what you want people to know. Be real and be authentic. Want to connect with specific people? Informally introduce yourself by engaging with their posts.
4. Be Confident In Who you Are
Maybe you have a passion and a drive that sets you apart, or perhaps you have a skill that really puts you ahead of the crowd. Whatever it may be, make it yours and own it! Don't sell yourself short by not sharing your impressive accomplishments. Yes, we're giving you permission: go brag a little bit about yourself! Confidence is a positive attribute that attracts people. Beware, though! There is a very fine line that can be crossed. If you feel like you're bragging a little too much, you're probably right.
5. When all goes wrong, DON'T PANIC
Everyone is going through different things at different times and you may feel as though a person is not being as receptive as you want them to or they're being a little "aloof". This is okay! Not everyone is going to connect with you right off the bat. This sometimes boils down to nothing more than people's current situations. They may be having an off day or feeling sick, or maybe they didn't get their coffee or perhaps they're going through a break up. Do you get where we're going with this? Understand that you aren't always going to liked by everyone--regardless of how much you want to be--so don't take it personal. If you don't connect with someone, tactfully excuse yourself from the conversation, regroup, and strike up a conversation with someone else. Who knows? Maybe the next time you circle back with them, they'll be more receptive and engaged.
Here at Dayton Tech Guide we believe that connectivity brings opportunity! There are things happening all the time that you may have been missing out on. If you're unsure of where to start, don't feel like you can't ask your community. And if you're in the Dayton community, be sure to check out our events calendar and see what we have to offer!
Nothing is stopping you. Get inspired, get connected, and be your own change!
Written By: Austin Rains, Dayton Tech Guide Marketing Associate