“It’s not what you know but who you know”, this has only becoming truer in our fast-paced and competitive working world. Of course qualifications, experience, skills and a good work ethic are all part and parcel of being the dream candidate but networking has also played a key role in successors rising to the top.
Being in someone’s squad that you want to work with could well get your foot in the door. We all know people who knew someone who knew someone who recommended them for the role of their life. And if you’re self-employed you’d be mad not to be seeking out fellow freelancers for friendships, guidance and your next paid gig. Sounds easy, right? Not so much if you’re socially shy or awkward – We’ve got some tips to help you get through it. Networking may sound scary but it’s worth giving it a go – you never know who you could be munching mini profiteroles next to!
Firstly, get out of your comfort zone
Pretend to be somebody else for a few minutes. If no-one at your networking event of choice knows you, how are they to know you’re scared stiff? They won’t. And it’s easier than you think to play the part of a more confident, less nervy version of yourself. Simply imagine the bravest person you know, think about what they’d do and before you start to tremble, do it.
Get out of your head
You’re probably making a mountain out of a mole hill and it’s highly likely no-one is staring at you or judging you and more than half of the room feels just as awkward as you. Don’t listen to the negative voices, just think rationally and try to enjoy yourself.
For many people who struggle with nerves or anxiety it’s the attention on them that sends them in to spin. Turn the tables and ask other people about themselves and their job. Not only will you feel less like you’re in the spotlight but people love talking about themselves and will remember how interested you were in them – great if your paths ever cross again.
Remember why you’re networking. It’s clearly not for the fun of it, it’s to further yourself and your career. Get those business cards out and start tooting your own horn. You might hate the whole experience (our money is on you enjoying it more than you think though!) so you might as well get something out of it, be it a new contact or a face-to-face with your potential new boss – “It’s not about connection, it’s just about building.” – Karen Civil