Now that in-person events are back, it’s time for appetizers and conversation which could make you nervous and excited at the same time. The next three hours are for networking with peers and future colleagues in the marketing industry. As you begin to make your way through the crowd, a combination of laughter and live music deafens your ears until you can barely hear the softer voices in the room. You’ve made your way over to a chair, and after taking a seat, you realize you should be networking and making connections. While networking can be an intimidating experience, you never know whom you might meet. In this article we share some tips to help you get more comfortable.
The problem with networking is there’s a lot of pressure to walk up to well-dressed strangers and engage them in stimulating conversations with a smile. The reality is that it’s hard to talk to strangers. Walking over to speak with someone you’ve never met could make you uncomfortable and a little anxious. According to mindtools.com, preparing an opener like “are you enjoying the event” and a short introduction (name, occupation, company) will help reduce your anxiety when speaking to someone new.
You get out of your chair and look across the sea of people and find a table of two talking. As you part the sea, you focus on the table. When you get there, before you can introduce yourself, the table of two introduces themselves and look at you. To ease yourself into the conversation, you search your mind for a topic you’re familiar with and speak. Learnhub suggests that if you’re nervous, instead of hiding it, be honest about it. Chances are you’re not the only one. Your honesty may be just the icebreaker you need to relax.
This networking aspect of the event was a little stressful, however, you eventually found a way to overcome your nerves. You graciously thank the new connections you’ve added to LinkedIn and say goodnight. When conversations naturally come to an end, Fastcompany.com suggests you reinvigorate them by bringing in someone new. You could introduce your latest connection to someone you met earlier, breathing new life into the conversation that follows.
Networking is an important skill to develop because you can increase your chances of making the right connections. When you meet someone in a field you want to break into, you’ll have to be able to speak confidently. It’s been a long night, and after saying your goodbyes, you make eye contact with someone at the next table and notice they’re waving you over. As the saying goes, “You only get one chance to make a first impression,” so relax, take a deep breath, and introduce yourself. Sometimes it’s not what you know but whom you know that matters.
As the semester winds down, you realize your professional image still needs work. If you’re wondering what to do next, maybe it’s time to start working on your brand.