Do You Enjoy Networking? Be Honest.
Do you enjoy networking? Really enjoy it?
If you answered no, that’s normal, you are in the majority. In fact, some studies have found that 7 out of 10 people considered themselves to be shy or introverted in networking settings. Many professionals feel uncomfortable with the idea of networking because the practice seems somewhat foreign to them. However, many of these same professionals possess great social skills in other situations. Is it possible to make networking a less painful process? Is it possible to even enjoy it? The answer is yes according to Susan RoAne, author of How to Work a Room: The Ultimate Guide to Making Lasting Connections.
In her book which recently featured in an SHRM Viewpoint article, RoAne distinguishes the difference between socializing and networking. Based on her research, RoAne determined that there are separate skill sets for social interactions than for business networking. She believes the key to success is utilizing a mix of “socialization skills” and “networking tactics.” By blending the two, professionals become more comfortable with interacting with others on a social level which eventually leads to meaningful networking connections. To make the most of your next networking event, RoAne suggests, focus on preparation, practice, and efforts to be approachable.
Researching the event, members, and attendees before your arrival will enable you to prepare a meaningful introduction and select a couple of significant topics to discuss. Practicing your introduction and connecting it to the event in some meaningful way can lead to a substantial boost of confidence because you will feel fully prepared and have an idea of what you can contribute to a conversation beforehand. Finally, the importance of creating a sense of approachability with others can be accomplished with a welcoming smile and an interesting article of clothing like a fun tie or a unique piece of jewelry. The idea is to create an opportunity to start a dialogue and establish some common ground. Once the conversation is flowing, RoAnne proposes, it will be much simpler to forge great connections, both personally and professionally.
Networking like a pro doesn’t mean you have to leave your personality at the door. In fact, connecting with others is far more comfortable when they have the opportunity to get to know you well. If you would like to learn more about networking opportunities in our area, contact our office today. We are a part of many professional organizations and groups and would love to assist you in developing a knack for networking.