Job-search and career coaches always tout networking’s importance. They implore clients to break away from their computers to engage in old-fashioned interactions to link with people who may be able to help them.
It’s not so easy to master the art of juggling a plate and drink in one hand while gracefully delivering an on-target elevator pitch.
For introverted job-seekers who prefer one-on-one meetings or small group interactions, the idea of needing to “work a room” to meet an influential new contact may seem overwhelming.
But succeeding at in-person networking is not out of reach. Follow these 10 steps to ease awkwardness and emerge with terrific contacts:
1. Become a sleuth. Before attending in-person events, find out who else plans to attend.
2. Research several targets. It’s not stalking; many make a habit of Googling people they expect to meet before an in-person encounter.
3. Search for recent press. Have their organizations been in the news? What about the contacts themselves?
4. Make a list of several conversation starters. If it’s uncomfortable meeting new people, advance research and planning will come in very handy at the moment a great contact extends a handshake.
5. Practice. There’s a reason “practice makes perfect.” If conversing with strangers is uncomfortable, spend some time role-playing with friends, a pet, or in front of a mirror.
6. Don’t ask for help. It may seem counter-intuitive, but you should avoid asking for help when meeting people for the first time.
7. Be a good listener. Ask plenty of questions. Most enjoy talking about themselves.
8. Request a meeting. It’s so much easier to have a professional conversation in a quiet, one-on-one setting where people are not hovering around, waiting to talk to your contact.
9. Seek the best ways to reconnect. Ask about the best time to reach your new friends and contacts. Avoid frustration: Use the preferred methods, even if it means stepping out of your comfort zone.
10. Follow up. It’s a shame to research and plan to meet new people, have engaging conversations, and leave without contact information and plans to get in touch.
Read all of the details and advice in my U.S. News & World Report post.
photo by dcJohn