10 Tips for Reluctant Networkers

To be happy at work you have to be comfortable with the people you work with.  Building strong relationships is a skill that everyone needs to develop. Developing good relationships with your co-workers will help you build that skill.  Continue to hone the skill by building a network of solid relationships.  Using your network will help you to get a new job, learn about different careers, and find solutions to work problems when you feel stuck.  Going to meetings just for the purpose of building your network and meeting people can feel very intimidating at first even for people who are extroverts.  Here are some tips to make your networking easier, more fun and more productive.

  1. Decide on where to network by thinking about who you would like to meet. Pick a meeting where there is a strong likelihood that you will find several of the people you have identified.  Before you go to the meeting set your intention to meet at least 1 or 2 of the people you have identified and have a strategy to find them.
  2. If you are concerned about how you look when you are networking, ask a friend to videotape you in a mock networking meeting. I’ve done this myself.  It can be painful to watch but you’ll see what others see and have the opportunity to change what you do not like.  If you have some close supporters ask them to give you feedback too.
  3. Think about the image you want to project and dress and behave accordingly. If no one approaches you, look for people standing by themselves.  They will be happy if you start a conversation with them.
  4. Get a positive mindset. Think, ‘I can’t wait to meet my new friends.” As you enter the room smile and stand tall.  With a positive attitude you will attract people to you.
  5. Come with some questions you’ve thought about that will get the dialogue started. Use an alternative to “What do you do?”  Get people talking about themselves first.    You’ll learn a lot and will have time to get comfortable with them.
  6. Arrive early. It will be less intimidating to arrive first then to enter a crowded room with everyone already in conversation with others.
  7. Be prepared. Have a pen with you along with breath mints and business cards.  Use the pen to put notes on the back of the other person’s business card so you won’t forget who the person is when you leave.
  8. Keep your drink in your left hand so your right hand won’t be wet when you shake hands.
  9. Keep your business cards in one pocket and the ones you collect in another pocket.
  10. Follow up: Keep the business cards you have collected to connect with those you have met in LinkedIn or by email.  Use the notes you made about your conversation on the back of their business card to craft a personal note that reminds them of who you are.  Arrange a meeting with those connections that you feel have potential as strategic partners or customers.
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