Do you network?
If you are the owner of a small business (or any business), are in sales or business development at a company that you simply work for, you undoubtedly spend some portion of your time networking.
Even if your job description does not match the two described above you will most likely find yourself at an event of some kind where a cocktail hour (networking) or mingling before the event starts (networking) take place.
And, for recent college graduate, networking is really about any room you are in that has other people in there too!
Some people are naturals at the art of networking while for others, perhaps the more shy or introverted among us, networking can be an extremely stressful experience.
These eight tips from Jacqueline Whitmore will hopefully provide some help in relieving that stress!
Temper expectations: Introverts shouldn’t set unrealistic expectations for how many connections they need to make. Networking isn’t a numbers game, and it’s more about quality than quantity, Whitmore said.
Plan ahead: It is important for introverts to prepare for their networking events. Whitmore suggested thinking of some good icebreakers, such as open-ended questions that can spur conversation. For instance, you could ask, “What’s your favorite part of your job?”
Set a departure time: Choosing when you’ll leave a networking event ahead of time often makes the situation far less intimidating. Whitmore said that, many times, introverts will get comfortable in the environment quickly and stay longer than they anticipated.
Use mutual contacts: If there is a specific person you want to meet, find a common connection, to see if they can introduce you. Whitmore said that rather than just approaching someone out of the blue, finding mutual acquaintances helps make a stronger relationship.
Use your listening skills: Introverts often have a leg up on others at networking events because they are usually such good listeners. Those listening skills often help introverts stand out as people who value others, which can give event attendees more of a reason to remember them, Whitmore said.
Get personal: Whitmore said that asking multiple questions without ever sharing any information about yourself can make people feel as if they’re being interrogated. Conversations should be a two-way street. She advises introverts to share personal information about themselves as a way to help others remember them once the event is over.
Practice: Introverts who are nervous about networking should challenge themselves with no-risk or low-risk situations. Whitmore encouraged them to drive to an event in a town other than their own, where they won’t know anyone, as a way to practice their networking skills. She said this provides them with an opportunity to experiment with new conversations or stories.
Take baby steps: Not all networking needs to take place at a specific “networking” event. Whitmore advised introverts to take advantage of everyday situations, such as casually socializing with colleagues around the office or inviting a different co-worker to lunch each week.
Written by Michael Haltman, President of Hallmark Abstract Service, New York.
HAS is a provider of title insurance in New York State for residential and commercial real estate transactions specializing in the areas of New York City, Long Island and Westchester.
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If you have any questions you can reach Michael by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.Google+