Networking is the non-glamorous, but often necessary part of building a career (more like legacy). It’s not fun to fake a smile and humble brag, but you may have to do it to get the promotion you deserve.
These tips should make it easier to form meaningful connections when you’re exchanging niceties with the people who are most important to your career goals.
Start By Pampering Yourself
There’s nothing like a good pampering session to get you ready to do the dang thang. Take a nice long bath, paint your nails, pick out your outfit in advance — do whatever you have to do to get yourself feeling as de-stressed as possible before you have to go out into the world and, you know — interact with strangers. Ew.
Time For A Confidence Boost
Confidence is key when it comes to networking etiquette, so give yourself a pep talk before you leave the house! Look in the mirror and remind yourself that it’s going to be OK. Then, go out there and carry yourself like the goddess you are.
Fake It ‘Til You Make It
All right — so the truth comes out. Even if your hair’s perfect and you’ve fully realized your self-worth, the time has come to actually communicate your message with others, and it’s down right intimidating. Try and let your self-assuredness wow the crowd — even if you don’t know WTH you’re doing. Just fake it ‘til you make it (we’ll let you in on a secret — that’s what everyone else is doing, too).
Werk Your Co-Working Magic
If you have the opportunity to rent space at a co-working office or even just work from a coffee shop with other professionals from time to time, it can really help boost your networking capabilities — mainly because you’ll be forced to do it a little more often, or at least, you’ll be more likely to start up a conversation with the person who’s moving up just as quickly as you are.
Plus, it could just give you the confidence boost you need. According to The Harvard Review (fancy!), co-working has major benefits:
“Because there is little direct competition or internal politics, [those who co-work] don’t feel they have to put on a work persona to fit in. Working amidst people doing different kinds of work can also make one’s own work identity stronger.”
Remember — Your Uniqueness Is Your Best Attribute
While you’re trying to make sure there’s no lipstick on your teeth and your posture’s in check, the networking scene can definitely become overwhelming and have you second-guessing yourself. But, as long as you remember to believe in what you’ve got to offer and present a genuine message — you’ll be great. Remember — this isn’t a sales pitch, it’s supposed to be about forming a meaningful, albeit, professional, bond.
Career coach and CultiVitae founder Emily Liou said it best:
“You can be professional and have a personality at the same time,” she told Girlboss. “There’s no need to pretend to be someone else when you network.”
Take Your Friendship Goals To A Whole New Level
If you’ve tried all of this and you’re still feeling a bit hesitant to get out there and connect — you can always force a friend to tag along. What are friends for, after all? A member of the Forbes Communications Council even recommended having a partner in crime when making the most of a networking session:
“If you are able to attend an event with someone you know from another company, it is great to meet people together — that way you can talk each other up,” Sherry Jhawar told Forbes. “It can be so hard to boast about yourself and your firm’s accomplishments, but your friend from another company can do that for you and vice versa.”
Last, But Not Least — Use Tech To Your Advantage
OK, so maybe in-person meet-ups aren’t your thing. Or maybe you just want to keep the networking party going after the initial meeting. A follow-up email is a great way to reiterate what it was you feel you may have struggled to communicate initially. And there are also apps such as Bumble Bizz which can actually be used professionally and not just for aiding your love life!
So, get out there and impress some people already!