3 Ways To Take The Fear Out of Networking
I had the honor of being on a panel at my college’s, Colby Sawyer College, alumni networking event. I can’t believe it has been 23 years since I graduated, but I don’t feel any different than I did then, only with more grey hair. 😊
The theme of the night was networking. Many people feel, including me for years, believe that networking is scary, but a necessary evil. It is a lot like cold calling, most people hate it, and if they say they like it, they are lying. Working a room at an and event can seem daunting and intimidating. Most don’t know how to effectively start a conversation, but once they do it is much easier than they imagined.
After running many networking events as well as being at many of them, there are 3 quick ways I have found to highly effective and take the anxiety out of the networking process.
It is OK to be vulnerable- our preceding generations saw vulnerability as a weakness not a strength, I believe it to just be the opposite, there is tremendous strength in being vulnerable, admitting you don’t know something or willingness to be a beginner. People love to help people out, don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t know, because the first steps to knowing is admitting you don’t know. Here is an amazing Ted Talk on the power of vulnerability- https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability Make sure you watch it.
Be Authentic- you are you- When people try to network with others there is a belief that they need to be different than they are. They put on this persona that doesn’t even come close to who they really are and end up being a fake or a fraud, It is really easy to see through it. Be willing to be you and chances are you will have a lot more in common with the person that you are talking to than you would ever imagine. Authenticity allows your conversation to flow.
Smile- No one wants to the talk with the grumpy person. A smile allows people into their world. Smiling is key, it is warm, inviting, and allows for conversation. Being a downer doesn’t work, be inviting and let people into your world, it is OK to let your guard down.
These are simple, but not easy. People connect with those that are like them. If you are willing to be yourself, share your story and be who you really are, you will get much further in your career and your life.
Keep up the good work!