Up until last year, I was never one for meeting new people. I was complacent with familiar faces and comfortable situations. However, when trying to take over the world, one cannot go at it alone. The more you expand your network, the further you can grow yourself and your ideas.
Thus, I am proud to report that I have grown from a shy, socially awkward individual to a masked shy, socially awkward individual! Yep, I’ve managed to not change myself; instead, I occasionally set aside my naturally reserved demeanor for the greater good of expanding my network.
Here are some tricks I’ve learned that made my transition a little smoother:
One common misconception about networking is that you have to go to a structured event to meet new people. On the contrary, networking is more of a mind-set than an event location. An open-minded person is always ready when opportunity knocks.
The other day in Starbucks, I randomly heard a guy talking about a non-profit convention he was hosting, so I struck up a conversation. I found out that he was the founder of a million dollar non-profit similar to mine. We exchanged contact information, met up and he gave me tons of ideas to grow my business. Now, what if all I wanted to get out of my Starbucks experience was coffee?
If you’re not at the stage where you’re comfortable with starting conversations with random strangers, work on letting them come to you. People gravitate to visually pleasing and positively energized individuals.
Make sure you look polished and smell fresh at all times, people! Also of high importance, pay attention to your body language. Smile and look friendly. Don’t fold your arms or look down too much. You never know who is watching and what they can add to your life.
Scour The Room
If you’re ever at an event and you find yourself awkwardly standing in the corner or seated at the table alone, take a moment to look around. More often than not, there’s always another lone ranger who is just as uncomfortable as you. This is an optimal opportunity to network. So do both of you a favor, walk over, and strike up a conversation.
Be Pitch Ready
In most networking situations, general questions are asked. Be ready to answer what you do for a living, why you do it and what makes you different from others. Sound confident, but not rehearsed. Keep it short and sweet. You can gauge the amount of details you should add based on their body language or if they ask you questions. And be sure to make it a two-way conversation. As awesome as you think you may be, never focus the dialogue completely on yourself.
Write to Remember
If you’re anything like me, whether you meet one person or ten people in a day, you’re bound to forget major details by the end of the night. An easy way to remember contacts is to write on the back of their business cards. Once the conversation is over, quickly jot down where you met them, topics that stood out during the exchange, any unique physical features of the person and whatever buzz words that will help you identify them. You’ll thank yourself later.
It’s easy to connect with people whom you already have things in common with. But it’s valuable to meet people who share different interests and skills from you. Likewise, search for diversity in age, gender and ethnicity. These individuals potentially have more to offer because they can open your mind to new ventures, possibilities and solutions.
What are some things you’ve found helpful in your networking ventures? What annoys you about meeting new people?
Share your tips & tricks in the comment section below or on the Skillology WeMixx Wall!
Image retrieved from http://freelanceconsultingadvice.com/networking/