Even in an industry full of extroverts, there are many among us that find it a challenge to talk to people we’ve never met. However, one thing I’ve learned over the last few years is that some of the greatest opportunities and ideas can arise from seemingly random conversations.
Opportunities to meet with like minded people should be grabbed with both hands. If you find these sorts of events a little daunting, consider these three ideas to take the discomfort out of networking and use it to create real value for yourself and/or your business…
Listening is the best way to start a conversation.
Most people think about networking from the perspective of what they are going to say. Instead, think about networking in terms of what someone else might have to say to you. Only this morning I was able to chat with a fellow recruiter who was able to provide some valuable input on a new project. He presented a perspective that I had not previously considered.
Honesty begets honesty.
Networking can occasionally bring out the braggarts, the people for whom everything is going just great: stellar sales, great cash flow, and unbounded career/business potential. We can all spin our stories to “sell” the audience on how great our business/career is, however, sometimes ditching the PR pitch and honestly talking about challenges you’re facing can be of benefit in a number of ways. The person you’re speaking to may have experienced a similar thing and, with any luck, have a couple of suggestions you may not have considered.
Another value in being a little more honest about things is that others tend to be more honest with you. Even if there is no immediate solution to existing problems, sometimes it’s just nice to know that you’re not alone when facing particular issues.
Everyone has something interesting to impart.
Even within industry events, networking can make people nervous if they believe they may be thrown together with people with whom they have nothing in common. In my experience, the people who are the most different from me are also the most likely to teach me something valuable. In the very least, provide a new perspective. So think again before you consider skipping a networking opportunity or contemplate hiding out by the buffet table.
Networking can make your entrepreneurial or career journey less lonely, provide you with great nuggets of advice, and force you to do something outside your comfort zone – all of which are fundamental to being the successful industry professional you are destined to be.
I wish you every success with your networking efforts.