Networking Crash Course 101: Go From Coy to Seriously Connected in No Time!

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NETWORKING 101:

Get Over the Fear
You can be the most popular kid in school, but when it comes to meeting people in the business world, don’t think you’re alone if your first instinct is to panic. If the notion of meeting top recruiters, executives and CEOs freaks you out or transforms you into a shy and awkward shell of yourself, it’s time to confront the fear. Build your confidence quickly by diving right in.  How?  Find a pool of executives (at a career fair, party, or conference), acknowledge that the new environment may sting your nerves at first, then push yourself to talk to at least one person. You’ll quickly see that the more you do it the easier it will get!

Have Fun
Networking can be a lot of fun.  Meeting new people opens you up to new experiences and brings adventure into your life.  Frankly, that’s what your job search should feel like too–an exciting exploration of new opportunities.  If you approach networking with this perspective, you may even start to love it!  Remember: New people = New Friendships/Advisors = New Opportunities!

Why You Need to Build Your Contacts
Your ability to catch and hold the attention of people in the business world has a huge impact on the opportunities you’ll be offered throughout your life.  Just don’t look at everyone you meet as a means to an end. Few are going to want to help you if you approach your conversations with a “what’s in it for me” attitude.  Expand your network of relationships and nurture them.  When you need help opening doors, are looking for some advice, or need a job, the people in your network will be your first responders.

What to Talk About
Keep in mind that the people you network with have families and friends, they eat and sleep (or don’t), travel, and dream about their futures – just like you. Break the ice by introducing yourself and asking them about their day. If you’re at a conference, ask if they are having a good time, have had a chance to walk around, what so you think of the event so far. Comment on something interesting about their booth.  All you need to do is get a conversation started and let things flow from there.

Written by, Jennifer Kushell

YSN – Expert Advice on Career Advancement and Tools for Professional Development