Networking Notworking

Networking Knowledge


Personality types vary greatly, making interactions with others, especially in unfamiliar settings, challenging.

This is particularly true in the world of networking, where not everyone possesses the natural ability to effortlessly connect with new people.

Introverts, who make up a significant portion of the population (30-50%), often struggle to fit in.

Consequently, mastering the social skills required for successful networking becomes essential, even for those who may not consider themselves social butterflies.

Many individuals who find it difficult to fit in may question the value of networking altogether.

However, this book aims to provide answers and a comprehensive strategy for navigating networking events, covering preparation, the event itself, and follow-up.

Regardless of your past feelings of inadequacy, it is entirely possible to become a proficient networker.

Let go of any preconceived notions holding you back, take a deep breath, and embark on a journey to discover your true potential.

Why Networking Matters

Networking is an essential aspect for anyone aiming to progress in their career.

Although you may have come across this advice before, it is crucial to truly embrace its significance.

If social situations make you uncomfortable, you might have disregarded the importance of networking on several occasions.

You may have convinced yourself that your exceptional work alone will propel you towards your desired goals.

Perhaps you believe that interacting with influential individuals at your workplace is sufficient.

Alternatively, you might be relying on fate to guide you to the right opportunities.

However, the reality is quite different. There is no magical force waiting to grant your wishes and make all your dreams come true.

At some point, you will have to actively engage in networking.

Here’s why networking is essential:

Networking Elevates Your Professional Growth

While hard work is commendable and can positively impact your annual performance review, it does not guarantee career advancement within a company.

Progressing often requires additional training, which many workplaces fail to provide. Therefore, you may need to pursue further education independently.

However, this can be challenging if you lack the right connections or knowledge about available opportunities.

Having mentors or advisors who can guide you becomes crucial.

These are the individuals who will provide honest assessments of your current position and suggest areas for improvement.

They will help you create a strategic plan to reach your desired destination.

So, where can you find these mentors? Through networking.

Networking Facilitates Success Within Your Workplace

Establishing connections with your colleagues offers numerous advantages.

For instance, being connected to someone with extensive company experience can provide you with invaluable insights into how things are accomplished.

They can assist you in identifying key players and the most valuable members of your team.

Moreover, your coworkers possess insider information that you might not discover otherwise.

They might inform you about upcoming job openings or provide valuable information about a new area you plan to shift to.

In addition, your connections can involve you in projects you are eager to be a part of or recommend you for specific tasks.

Networking Aids in Job Hunting

If you are looking to make a career change, networking is your ticket to success.

Having connections within a company you aspire to work for can help you discover job openings even before they are publicly announced.

Additionally, strong relationships might lead to referrals, which can significantly enhance your chances of being noticed by potential employers.

Furthermore, having a mentor who works in your desired field can guide you on how to navigate your career path.

They can even provide valuable advice on how to present your resume or application, making you a more appealing candidate.

After considering all these reasons, it becomes evident why networking matters. It serves as a catalyst for change in your professional life.

Moreover, networking introduces individuals into your life who are essential for your success and job satisfaction.

In summary, networking enables you to build a team and sets you on the path to achieving your goals.

It is an exhilarating prospect, especially when you consider all the possibilities for your future.

Feeling ready to give networking a try? Then it’s time to develop a personalized game plan tailored to your needs.

Personality Types and Networking

Recognizing the importance of networking is only part the equation. It is equally important to understand the different types of individuals you may encounter.

While there are numerous personality types, here are a few particularly valuable ones to engage with, if you haven’t already.

The Go-Getter

The Go-Getter is the person who takes action and gets things done.

They can be intimidating when they are in motion and may not hesitate to bend the rules to achieve their goals.

Having them in your circle is beneficial because they deliver results. However, it’s crucial to note that they expect the same level of commitment from others.

If you intend to establish a relationship with a Go-Getter, you must demonstrate your ability to fulfill your promises without burdening them with excessive details.

The Advocate

If you seek someone to champion your cause, having an Advocate on your side is essential.

When they believe in what you offer, they will enthusiastically endorse you, especially to the right individuals.

Fortunately, Advocates are relatively easy to find, as they often enjoy socializing and frequently attend networking events.

The challenge lies in capturing their attention, as they tend to be involved in various endeavors.

Once you have their support, however, you can rely on them to promote both you and your project.

To engage with Advocates effectively, be prepared to provide them with ample details about your objectives and demonstrate how endorsing you aligns with their best interests.

The Skeptic

At first glance, the Skeptic may not appear to be the ideal choice. They question everything and are often seen as the voice of skepticism.

Nevertheless, they possess the ability to analyze facts and identify the most effective path forward.

They thrive when tasked with evaluating the viability of plans and determining the next steps.

To leverage their value, engage Inspectors in assessing your proposals and seeking their insights.

It can be challenging to win them over, as they expect others to prove their worth before fully embracing their ideas.

Once they are on your side, though, they remain steadfast in their support.

The Collaborator

When you require assistance, Collaborators are the individuals you want on your team. They excel at working within a group and fostering teamwork.

Whenever there is a need to assemble a team for a project, the Collaborator serves as the cohesive force that holds it together.

However, it is important to note that Collaborators are cautious to trust and require regular progress updates. They appreciate being kept informed.

Fortunately, they are approachable, making it relatively easy to maintain alignment with them throughout the process.

The Network Pre-Game

Achieving success in networking starts before you even step outside.

Merely deciding to meet new people isn’t sufficient, especially if social situations make you uncomfortable.

Regardless of how enthusiastic you were when you made the decision to reenter the social scene and engage in networking, intimidation will still be present.

The key is to develop a plan that will guide you through the networking event, boosting your confidence and enabling you to accomplish more in less time.

This not only allows you to leave earlier but also yields better long-term results. Ready to get started?

Let’s begin with the initial steps you need to take once you’ve determined it’s time to network.

Firstly, establish networking goals. Going in without a strategy is a surefire way to fail in networking. You must have a clear set of goals before proceeding.

It’s essential to understand the specific network you aim to build. While this may seem complex, it’s actually quite straightforward.

Ask yourself why you want to network. Are you seeking personal connections, or do you aspire to forge relationships that will advance your career?

One valuable tip is to keep these two networks separate, as mixing friendships with work may not be advisable.

Once you have identified your network, consider the precise goals you wish to achieve through networking.

Are you seeking support, new clients, or connections for future opportunities?

Without understanding the purpose behind your networking efforts, success will be elusive.

To create a goal and devise a plan to achieve it, ask yourself the following questions:

– What are my current dreams or aspirations?

– What is preventing me from realizing those dreams?

– Who do I need in my life to make those dreams a reality, and how will they assist me?

– Which networks do I need to leverage in order to meet this person?

– What specific benefits am I hoping to gain from this relationship, and what can I offer in return?

– What questions should I ask, or strategies should I employ, to capture their interest and attention when I meet this person?

Go through this list for each individual you wish to meet, and once completed, proceed to the next step.

Conduct thorough research. When venturing out to meet new people, comprehensive knowledge about the event itself is crucial.

Fortunately, we live in an age where instant information is readily accessible through the internet.

A quick online search of the event should provide all the necessary details.

Consider the following aspects:

Basic event details: Is there an associated cost? If so, what is the amount? Where is the event located? Is there free parking available, or is public transportation easily accessible? What time does it commence?

Nature of the event: Is it formal or informal? What type of attire is appropriate? (e.g., Business or business casual) Will it be a large-scale gathering or a more intimate affair?

– Attendees: While determining the guest list might be challenging, you may have some insight if there is a publicly available list (e.g., a Facebook event).

– Event theme: Is the event focused on a specific industry, or will attendees come from diverse backgrounds? Are there any special requirements for attending?

Most of this information can be easily found through social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram, where you initially learned about the event.

Why is this research important?

Simply put, much of the anxiety associated with attending new places stems from concerns about arriving at the wrong location, being late, or wearing inappropriate clothing.

Additionally, you want to avoid being the person who shows up at an event where they don’t belong.

Having all the necessary information in advance allows you to focus on the important details.

Prioritize personal grooming and plan your outfit. Feeling confident stems from knowing that you look good. This concept is fundamental.

However, in networking, it’s not just about looking good but also about looking the part.

By now, you should have an idea of the appropriate attire based on your research about the event.

Generally, most networking situations call for business casual or business formal attire, so let’s focus on those.

If the occasion is more formal, such as a black-tie event, it’s wise to avoid flashy pieces, extreme trends, or clothing that reveals too much skin.

If you plan to network at such an event, opting for a slightly conservative approach is often a safer bet.

On a side note, regardless of the dress code, prioritize comfort, particularly in your choice of shoes if you anticipate being on your feet for extended periods.

This is not the time to break in a new pair of shoes!

Business attire can be categorized into two main styles: Business Formal and Business Casual.

In Business Formal settings, it is important to wear a button-down shirt with a collar for all genders, paired with slacks or a skirt that matches the suit jacket.

Male individuals should also wear a tasteful tie in a solid color. Closed-toed shoes that are plain and not flashy are recommended.

It is crucial to ensure that the suit jacket fits well and is not too small. On the other hand, Business Casual allows for more flexibility.

A blouse or button-down shirt can be worn, with the option of a tie. Slacks or a skirt that prioritize comfort are acceptable.

A jacket is optional, and a sweater can be a suitable alternative. Closed-toe shoes should still be worn in Business Casual settings.

When it comes to accessories, it is advisable to keep jewelry understated and avoid large, flashy pieces.

Purses or bags should be simple and on the smaller side, such as a briefcase or laptop bag that matches the business attire.

Bright and flashy colors or designs should be avoided. Outerwear should be chosen according to the weather, and an umbrella should be carried if necessary.

It is essential to keep cell phones out of sight and on silent mode, preferably stored in a bag, briefcase, or inner pocket of a suit coat.

Checking messages should be done privately to maintain undivided attention during interactions.

Grooming is also an important aspect to consider.

Wearing well-fitted and tailored clothes is ideal, and store clerks can assist in finding the right size when purchasing off the rack.

Hair should be styled appropriately for a business setting, and beards should be neatly trimmed.

Personal hygiene is crucial, and attendees should arrive at the event freshly showered and clean.

It is advisable to be cautious with scents like perfume or cologne, as some events may be fragrance-free.

Smoking should be avoided beforehand to prevent lingering smell on clothing. Additionally, maintaining fresh breath by brushing teeth is essential.

It is better to be slightly overdressed than underdressed at networking events. Developing a strategy before attending can boost confidence.

Taking the time to plan and rehearse the strategy beforehand will make implementing it more comfortable.

Clarifying the purpose of attending the event helps stay focused and avoid feeling like time was wasted.

Identifying the type of person one is looking to meet, such as a mentor or introducer, allows for targeted networking and easier identification of potential connections from the moment of arrival.

Finding the Right People:

If you have a idea of the type of individuals you’re looking for, there are steps you can take in advance to facilitate your search.

Access to a list of attendees can be immensely helpful, particularly for those who might feel socially awkward.

Having a manageable number of people to meet, focusing on specific individuals, is far less overwhelming.

If you’re unsure, seek suggestions from organizers or people you already know.

Determining Your Objectives:

Once you have identified the people you want to connect with, it’s essential to have a set of questions in mind. What do you plan to ask beyond introductions?

Have you considered what value you can offer them? Prepare your thoughts and ideas before meeting anyone.

If possible, practice different scenarios with a friend or family member to avoid becoming tongue-tied in crucial moments.

Valuable Strategies:

Ensure you come prepared by having an ample supply of business cards, pens, and a notebook.

It’s also helpful to carry a Sharpie for writing on glossy business cards. Being unprepared in such situations can be quite frustrating.

Additionally, master the art of delivering a concise elevator pitch that summarizes your purpose effectively.

Practice remembering names, as this skill can be challenging for many. There are numerous online resources available to help improve name recall.

To make meaningful connections, it’s crucial to be fully present in the moment and develop active listening skills.

Nobody enjoys talking to someone who appears distracted or disinterested.

Work on maintaining eye contact and ask someone you trust to provide feedback on your listening skills.

Introverted individuals may need to focus on improving eye contact since avoiding eye contact can be interpreted as disinterest or boredom.

Have a clear plan on how to navigate the event and engage with people.

If your goal is to connect with a large number of individuals, practice disengaging gracefully from lengthy conversations.

If time permits, ask open-ended questions to encourage more extended discussions. Practice will help you stay on track and achieve your networking goals.

Adopt a mindset of “Paying it Forward.” Remember that the primary purpose of networking is to build relationships.

Instead of focusing on what you can gain from others, think about what you can offer them.

Cultivate an attitude of generosity and consider ways in which you can contribute to their success.

Approaching events with this mindset will yield better results than merely seeking personal gain.

Key Talking Points:

For socially awkward individuals, engaging in conversation can be daunting.

Anticipating the questions you might be asked and preparing your responses can alleviate some anxiety.

Moreover, there may be instances where you need to initiate the conversation yourself, which can be particularly challenging if you’re not accustomed to doing so.

Here are some tips for being well-prepared:

Craft an icebreaker that sets a relaxing and pleasant tone for the entire encounter.

Utilize interesting details about the event location to initiate a conversation that flows naturally.

Show respect and value by asking for advice from individuals you know something about.

Conduct prior research to identify the right people to approach and gather ideas for questions.

Stay updated on current events by skimming headlines before attending the event. This will enable you to discuss relevant topics intelligently.

Find a question related to the person’s pet project or hobby, as people love talking about their interests.

By actively listening, you can build a strong connection and leave a lasting and positive first impression.

Having the ability to tell a captivating story is essential when someone shows interest in learning about you.

Instead of providing a mundane biography filled with rehearsed facts, it’s much more effective to share an amusing or intriguing anecdote that reveals something about your character.

By possessing an engaging story, you can leave a lasting impression and stand out from the crowd.

The way you communicate goes beyond just the words you use; it also includes your body language. Pay attention to your posture and the position of your arms.

Take the time to observe yourself in a mirror and practice speaking in a relaxed manner that conveys genuine interest.

Additionally, seek feedback from close friends and family to gain insights into how your body language is perceived by others.

Knowing when to stop talking and actively listen is a valuable skill. Learn to read the body language of those you interact with.

Recognize signs of waning interest or wandering attention, and gracefully pause your own speech to give the other person an opportunity to contribute to the conversation.

Authenticity is key. Remember, you are not playing a role. The most important thing is to be true to yourself.

Even if you consider yourself socially awkward, embracing your genuine self can be incredibly empowering.

Practice being authentic in your interactions with others. Develop comfort within your own skin and appreciate who you are, introvert or not.

When you genuinely like yourself, others will be drawn to you as well.

The concept of an elevator pitch is often debated, including whether it should be used at all.

The issue lies in the fact that most pitches come across as rehearsed, lacking spontaneity.

It’s important to avoid reciting your pitch so quickly that it becomes incomprehensible.

This gives the impression that you’re not even listening to your own words anymore.

So, how can you navigate this challenge?

Craft a pitch that provides a solid understanding of what you want to convey, while also allowing for easy customization to suit different situations.

Aim for a conversational tone when delivering your pitch. Utilize it when specifically asked about your purpose at an event.

With practice, you’ll begin to identify the appropriate moments to utilize your pitch, as well as recognize the warning signs indicating when it may not be appropriate.

What should your pitch include?

– Clearly state your goal in one to three concise sentences.

– Focus on the problem you’re addressing or how you intend to assist others.

– Highlight what sets your solution apart from others.

– Pose a question to the listener that includes a call to action.

Overall, dedicate time to practicing your pitch. Develop multiple versions to suit different listeners, considering the specific objectives you have in mind.

For instance, you would present a different pitch to someone you hope to secure as an investor compared to someone you want to directly involve in your project.

Feeling more prepared now? Fantastic! Let’s head to the event and discover how to make the most of your time once you’re there.

Time to Network

After adequately preparing yourself, you should feel confident and at ease during your networking event, without any concerns about fitting in.

However, if you still have doubts, here are some additional tips that might be helpful:

Arrive well-prepared: The previous chapter should have equipped you to make the most of your event. If you happen to forget something, don’t dwell on it. Treat it as a learning experience and be better prepared for the next networking opportunity.

Take a moment to breathe: Stepping into a networking event can be overwhelming. Before diving in, pause for a moment and take a deep breath or two. Remind yourself that you have prepared for this and that you have a purpose for attending. Believe in yourself!

Engage with different attendees: Avoid confining yourself to one table or corner of the room. Make an effort to move around and interact with various individuals.

Be mindful of your food and drink choices: Networking events often offer food and beverages. Be cautious when trying unfamiliar foods to avoid any stomach discomfort. It’s also important not to overindulge in alcohol. You don’t want to be known as the person who is excessively drunk or constantly talking with a mouthful of food.

Choose conversational topics wisely: While political or religious discussions may interest you, it’s best to avoid controversial opinions when networking. Focus on the purpose of the event and steer clear of divisive subjects.

Listen more than you speak: As mentioned earlier, excellent listening skills leave a positive impression. Additionally, you can gather valuable information that may prove useful for future follow-ups. If the conversation is particularly engaging, feel free to jot down a few notes to jog your memory when sending post-event emails.

Have necessary documents on hand: It’s always beneficial to carry extra copies of your resume in case someone requests it. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to exchange business cards either. Ensure you have an ample supply of both.

Be mindful of timing: Approach individuals at appropriate moments. Avoid chasing down speakers immediately after their presentations, as they may be overwhelmed by others with the same intention. It’s better to engage with them before or after the crowds have dissipated. Towards the end of the event, be considerate and conclude conversations. People tend to become tired and more focused on heading home rather than engaging further.

Make the conversation about the other person: Rather than focusing on selling yourself, use prepared questions to show genuine interest in the person you’re speaking with. Discuss their job and interests before introducing your own.

Avoid making direct requests: Networking events are not the place to ask for a job or an interview. Instead, prioritize building relationships. Let people know you are open to job opportunities if they happen to come across any. Allow them to handle that information as they see fit.

Take your time with conversations: Jumping right into your agenda, especially with new acquaintances, is not advisable. Invest time in getting to know individuals, engage in small talk, and show interest in their work. Only when a solid rapport has been established should you consider asking for favors or discussing your own needs.

Keep your hands free: Carrying too many items like a phone, purse, or drink can be distracting to both yourself and those around you. Only carry what you need, pocket your phone, and avoid the burden of juggling multiple plates and glasses.

Challenge yourself: If you’re not naturally social, attending a networking event is already a positive step. Well done! Now, try pushing yourself a little further. Reflect on how many people you spoke to at your previous event and aim to engage with even more this time. If you feel like leaving early, challenge yourself to stay for an additional fifteen or twenty minutes. It’s beneficial to push beyond your comfort zone.

Take a timeout if needed: If social anxiety starts to overwhelm you, it may be necessary to take a strategic break. Pay attention to your body’s signals. If you feel on the verge of panic or a meltdown, step outside or find a quiet place like the restroom. Take a minute to collect yourself, take deep breaths, and then return to the event.

Stay present and engaged: Focus on the person you are currently speaking with and actively listen to what they have to say. Avoid scanning the room, looking for your next target, or constantly checking the time. Being fully engaged and present will leave a lasting positive impression.

Expand Your Network by Thinking Creatively

Don’t limit yourself to connecting with people solely in your desired industry or company. Be open to unexpected connections and explore new possibilities.

You never know where these relationships might lead, so embrace diverse experiences!

Discover Opportunities to Assist Others

When meeting someone new, prioritize how you can be of help to them instead of focusing on what they can do for you.

Look for ways to make a positive impact on each person you meet and follow through on your willingness to offer assistance.

Embrace the Unknown and Take Bold Steps

If you’re uncertain about who to approach next, take a chance and strike up a conversation with a stranger.

You never know who you might encounter, and it could turn out to be a serendipitous meeting that surpasses your wildest expectations.

Remember to Embrace the Social Aspect

While these events serve professional purposes, don’t make every conversation solely about work.

Allow yourself to engage in friendly, casual conversations and get to know others on a personal level.

Relax and go with the flow, even if the discussion veers into non-work topics like last night’s big game. You can always shift back to business matters later.

Why Limit Yourself to One Person?

If you stumble upon an intriguing group discussion, don’t hesitate to join in.

This offers the advantage of meeting multiple individuals at once and expanding your network in a more dynamic manner.

Phew! That’s a wealth of information! With these strategies in mind, you’re bound to have a fantastic event.

Remember to enjoy yourself, as socializing is meant to be enjoyable too.

But wait, the event isn’t over just yet. There’s still the crucial follow-up to consider.

Keep reading to discover what steps you should take in the days and weeks following the event.

The Follow-Up

After attending a networking event, the real work of networking begins with follow-up and building new relationships.

It is crucial to have a plan in place and communicate your intention to follow up with your new contacts.

Prioritize the individuals you want to connect with and reach out to them through email or phone calls, spacing out your communication to avoid overwhelming yourself.

Utilize social media platforms like LinkedIn to stay connected and offer assistance to your contacts.

It is important to maintain integrity by fulfilling any promises made and showing genuine interest and support through social media engagement.

While online interaction is valuable, meeting in person over coffee or lunch can strengthen the relationship further.

Remember to keep in touch regularly to nurture the relationship.

Following up may seem daunting, but with practice and being true to yourself, networking can lead to remarkable opportunities and personal growth.

Embrace your uniqueness and be open to the world of networking. Plan strategically, network intelligently, and continue to follow up consistently.

Now, it’s time to put all this knowledge into action. Step out, take risks, and achieve great things.