8 Tips On Getting Over Your Networking Hurdles

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Conferences, career fairs, work meetings, and other job-related events are great places to begin networking. But, it can be difficult to forge real connections with other people in your field, especially if you’re trying to be authentic.

According to experts, many networking situations can feel artificial or even unpleasant. In some cases, you might even feel guilty about networking or worry that you don’t have the social skills to successfully network. Really, it’s common to feel anxious and uncomfortable while you network.

However, this is an essential part of your work life. To have a lasting career, you should invest your time in getting to know the people you work with and other prominent people in your field. Not only will this help you grow professionally, but successful networking will boost your job performance and satisfaction.

We’ll talk more about the benefits of networking and how you can overcome your networking hurdles here. But, just know that it isn’t too late for anyone. With the right mindset and a little bit of work, you can learn to be a strong networker in any situation.

The Importance and Benefits of Networking in Your Career

Why Do You Need to Consider Networking?
We talked a little bit about the importance of networking, but just how impactful is networking and why should you care about this aspect of your career? To put things in perspective, most people are hired through some form of networking.

A whopping 85% of job spots are filled through networking. 70% of jobs aren’t even listed publicly and are usually given to people within a company or connected to the company that is hiring.

This may seem unfair, but recruiters and managers want to hire people they know they can trust and rely on. If a company knows someone capable or met someone who made a positive impression, then that person is more likely to get the job in comparison to a random applicant.

It’s harsh, but most people are hired based on pre-established connections with a company or person, and 80 percent of professionals actually agree that networking is crucial for career growth.

Of course, you can still apply for jobs and gain career opportunities without networking. But it will be much more difficult, and you will be starting off from a disadvantage. This is because people who network gain many benefits.

What Benefits Does Networking Provide?

Networking brings attention to your skills and expertise as a professional. When you put in the effort to build these relationships, it shows people just how competent you are.

Especially if you can articulate your services and abilities to others, this can lead to further opportunities and success down the line.

In short, when people remember you or get to know you, you are opening up potential paths in your career. The more people you know, the better your opportunities will be and the more your reputation will grow on a professional level.

Still, networking isn’t all about gaining an edge. When you talk to people in your profession and build up contacts, you’re also sharing and hearing new ideas.

Interacting and collaborating with others is the best way to stay innovative and creative. And, networking specifically helps facilitate these enriching discussions that allow you to bring new ideas to your workplace.

How to Network Effectively and Confidently: 8 Tips for Building Stronger Connections

Networking doesn’t have to be difficult or intimidating. In fact, when you shift your thinking and look at networking in a more positive light, you’ll find that you can naturally get to know people within your company and within your field of work.

Making professional connections doesn’t have to be all about landing a job or gaining an advantage over others. In truth, networking goes much deeper than these surface-level aims.

By choosing to network, you can talk to other like-minded individuals about the latest developments and information in your field.

You also get the chance to create lasting professional relationships with people that could be business partners, clients, employers, or even friends. Most importantly, networking is your opportunity to build a strong professional image for yourself and your company.

Whether you are networking in healthcare, business, technology, entertainment, and other fields you can learn how to make those career-changing connections. We’ll go over the best ways to network and overcome any hurdles below:

1. Pick Networking Events That Are Worth Your Time and be Selective

Again, networking isn’t about worming your way into a job or currying favor with others. Instead, this is a chance for you to make memorable connections with other professionals. Keeping this in mind, you want to be selective about the events you show up to. You can attend a few networking events throughout the year but focus on the quality of your time over the quantity.

Don’t try to make friends with every person you meet. In fact, it will be hard to actually get to know people if you attend too many events and overload yourself with social interactions. Instead, talk to people that genuinely pique your interest and fit your goals.

If you want to make a specific connection with someone because you like their company or the work they do, then make time to talk to them. Also, make sure to talk about topics that interest you and show off your strengths. This way you really make an impact and get the chance to learn more.

2. Don’t be Afraid to Research

People often worry that they are being selfish or underhanded when they research people that are going to networking events. But, this is actually something that you want to do. It can be intimidating going into an event and not knowing anyone. However, when you do a bit of research you can help yourself break the ice with others.

Not only can you make more time to talk to people that you’d like to know, but this method could help you connect with others more easily since you have knowledge about their professional lives.

3. Have Clear Goals at Events

If you haven’t networked before or suffer from networking anxiety we recommend setting goals for yourself. Knowing what you want to accomplish at a networking event can help you get over any hurdles of fear and worry. Having a plan will also make you feel confident and in control of the situation.

But, be realistic and don’t overextend yourself. You can start small by aiming to talk to a certain number of people. Or if you want to discuss specific topics, plan to talk to experts that can teach you more about your field.

Again, you don’t have to meet everyone at a networking event. Just plan to spend your time meeting your goals and getting value out of any interactions you have.

4. Try to Arrive a Little Early

It doesn’t hurt to arrive early at your networking event. When you’re one of the first people at an event, you can gather information about the venue and make a plan. You can even look for good spots to have a conversation.

But, just get comfortable before people arrive and start forming their own groups and discussions. Getting somewhere early can also give you the chance to think over what you want to say and do during the rest of the day.

5. Plan Your Conversations

Obviously, you don’t want to write a speech or have a pre-written script before you meet other people. But, it definitely doesn’t hurt to outline what you’ll be talking about.

Depending on why you’re networking you might steer your conversations differently. Still, it’s best to go into events with some clear ideas and even questions. If you’re trying to get more information about certain topics, you can actually prepare questions for specific people.

But if you want to share your ideas or collaborate with others, plan what you want to say. Then find a way to break the ice and have a discussion. You can start by introducing yourself and your company. And if you memorized questions this can be a good way to get people to be more open and relaxed.

6. Practice Small Talk by Asking Questions and Listening

We talked about making a plan when you have conversations with others. However, you want to build up your conversation before getting to your main points. This way you create more authentic connections. Small talk isn’t always easy but the more you practice, the more confident you will be.

Going to networking events can help you build up your conversation skills, and you can also practice small talk in your day-to-day life. It might be awkward at first, but don’t overthink what you’re saying.

Just keep a few things in mind at networking events. When you do use small talk, don’t start off with complex questions. Ask about simple things that people care about. You can inquire about their company, why they are at the event, who they are excited to meet, and other pointed questions about their career.

In short, you are trying to get other people to talk about themselves more. This way you can move the conversation along and get to know them better. And, a lot of the time you don’t have to be a chatterbox.

Asking good questions and showing your interest in what someone is saying can help you make a connection and succeed at small talk.

7. Stay in Touch

Networking doesn’t end after an event. To maintain your connections, you should keep in touch with the people you meet. If you get contact information from people at an event, try to follow up on the conversation you had. You can ask more questions or bring up other interesting points you didn’t get to when you first met.

If you don’t have anything else to say or don’t know if continuing the conversation is appropriate, send a LinkedIn invite. You can even personalize the invite and tell them where you met and remind them about what you talked about. Finally, if you do see someone you know at another networking event, make sure to talk to them.

8. Don’t Stop Networking

Just because you have created a strong network of contacts doesn’t mean that you should stop networking. Of course, stay in contact with your network by going to a few events each year. And, plan on making new connections each year.

No matter what field you work in, there will always be new things to learn and new opportunities to open yourself to. So, you want to keep your network flexible and make sure you are evolving alongside the people you are making those connections with.

You never know where your career will lead you and what you might end up doing with the people you meet.

Final Thoughts on Networking

Networking is a core skill that every professional needs to learn. While you might be anxious about meeting new people or making connections, you need to network if you want to unlock your full potential and find more meaning in your job.

Large-scale events and other professional settings can be great places to try networking, but you can start even smaller. People can network right in their workplace when they are talking to their co-workers and even people in upper management.

You have the opportunity to improve your professional influence and reputation no matter where you go. It’s just a matter of finding the right opportunities and using them to your benefit.

Hopefully the networking tips we went over today can help you get over any hurdles you’ve been struggling with.

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