4 of the Best Networking Tips from Around the Web
Networking could be your favorite job-related task or your worst nightmare. It all depends on your personality. Though, it would be difficult to undermine networking's importance. About 85% of jobs are obtained through networking, one survey says. Another study found that 85% of people build better relationships through in-person business meetings and conferences. Networking jump starts those relationships by getting you in front of people right away, rather than starting with a phone call or email. Yep, networking is important but how do you do it? You could just wing it. Or, you could keep these networking tips in mind. Up to you...
Don't Stress (Really)
You're going to screw up sometimes. That's life. Don't be nervous about it. Don't expect it. Take it in stride because it's not the big problem you think it is. Really. Kenneth Savitsky found out that we all overestimate the memorableness of our mistakes and misfortunes. People won't recall embarrassments as often as you think and people won't notice things as often as you think, either. Therefore, don't be nervous and if something unfortunate happens, move on. Life's too short, anyway.
Practice Your Elevator Pitch
An elevator pitch or elevator speech is a short bit of monologue that introduces yourself and lets your intentions be known. You don't want it to be bland. You want it to be memorable, rather. You also need it to be short, in case you don't have much time to get it across. Laura Katen recommends actually riding the elevator while you practice. You want to be able to get it all out in the time it takes to go from a mid-level floor to the lobby. She also offers other tips to help you get your pitch ready.
There are things about you that are different. It could be your hairstyle. It could be your sense of humor. Maybe it's a unique hobby or interest you have. Whatever you do, don't hide these things. Don't blend in too much. You're more likely to be remembered if you provide some contrast. You might also find something in common with someone else, which could help you make a deal, get a job, or just make new friends, whatever your goal is.
That being said, you might want to tone things down sometimes. Sacrifices are necessary, once in a while. If you want a job at Price Waterhouse Coopers and you're meeting some execs wearing a mohawk and a Rage Against the Machine t-shirt, there's a good chance they might develop concerns about how you're going to fit into their company's culture. It could be a better idea to work somewhere casual clothes are embraced, in this case.
Think of It as Dating
Sopie Moatti recommends a speed-dating-like approach to networking. Get in there and start meeting people. If they don't seem interesting to you (from a business/career perspective), politely excuse yourself and meet someone else. When you find someone you click with; maybe a manager you get along with who might be interested in a partnership at some point, ask for another "date" before it's time to go. That will give you a better chance at developing a lasting, fruitful relationship.