How To Network...
When you Hate Networking
A few tips and tricks to help get you out of that networking slump.
Networking....it's the buzz word of the moment right now. Everyone is collaborating and making connections and they are doing that by....socializing. Or as the professionals like to call it...networking. You thought dating was bad? Now imagine you have to do that, in the day, sober and usually alone. It's terrifying, especially in the age of Netflix and never leaving your house. Who on earth wants to leave their house (especially after you have been working all day or week) and have to go rattle off the same 30 second elevator pitch. We all know it's like a bad night in your 20s, but it has to be done. We broke down a few tips for making networking a little less awful and a lot more awesome.
Know Your Why
What do you do? This might seem obvious but once someone actually asks you, it's harder to explain than you think. Knowing exactly what you do will help you pitch your business to others. Everyone remembers in class, waiting for your turn to read, practicing the same paragraph 10 times, only for the teacher to call on you first, throwing you off and making you feeling completely unprepared. That's probably the terror that still sits inside you when you think of networking. Sit down, grab a cup of coffee and write out who you are and what you do. You might have forgotten that you were voted most likely to succeed in your office or that you were the youngest VP of marketing hired in your ad firm. Both are top notch accolades and both are great talking points to have in your back pocket. If you're a business owner, write our your mission statement and write out exactly how you want to convey your business to others. If you have an online store that sells all things pineapples, you don't want to stumble through your statement and end up telling people you like funny shaped fruit. You want them to know that you are the C.O.O. for a popular new citrus movement. You reach a global audience with your dedication and passion for all things pineapple. Telling people your role, what your business stands for and how you reach your clients is a great way to get people not only aware, but excited about you and your business. Scott Angus, owner of HP Change and professional public speaker, says communicate your why, your value, and your story.
The thought of going to an event alone is enough to make anyone want to stay home. Nothing is better than company when you're feeling nervous and uncomfortable. Bring a wingman with you, maybe someone who is great at starting a conversation and knows your areas of expertise to help throw you in. The first few times you network can be intimidating and by bringing someone with you who can help make the transition easier will help you feel more confident.
While it's important to know what you're selling and putting your self out there, Scott points out that you need to have an idea or understanding of why you are attending that specific event you've chosen and what your goals are for it. Is the event just a chance for you to try out networking? Maybe you want to try going alone to boost your confidence? Or perhaps you're looking to collaborate with someone and you know there's going to be a lot of complementary business owners attending and you want to leave with at least 3 new connections to discuss collaborating with. Scott also encourages you to take a rest when you need it. If you are feeling overwhelmed and need a break, it's ok to take a step back and give yourself a minute. Knowing what you are comfortable with is going to help you enjoy the event and succeed.
While networking can sound terrifying, it really is helpful in business because of the potential connections you can make. They always say, it's not what you know but who you know and while the former isn't actually true, the latter sure helps. Being confident, secure and strong in who you are and what you can offer will help your business thrive. And if you decide to stay in after all, you can catch the next event.
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