If you’re shy, don’t think that successful networking is out of the question. Molly Dyson offers top tips for the less outgoing.
While working with Forum Events we’ve heard from many industry members that their job can be extremely isolating, especially if your position is the only one of its kind at your company. That’s where strategic networking comes into play, but it’s not always easy to get past your fears and meet new people. Here are our top tips to tackle trepidation and go head on into a successful networking event.
1 Set a goal
What are you hoping to achieve by networking? Are you in need of a support group of other, similar employees that you can turn to with questions? Maybe you’re looking for a new job and want to get to know people who might know of available positions. Or perhaps you’re just on the hunt for new contacts. Whatever your goal, have it firmly in your mind so you can be more strategic in your approach.
2 Find the right event or group
Once you have a goal in mind you can be more selective with which events you attend. If you’re looking for suppliers, face-to-face events such as the Education Forum are the place to be. Want to meet like-minded individuals? Join local and national networks to give you the chance to interact with a variety of different people from different backgrounds.
3 Remember you’re not alone
It’s important to keep in mind that you’re probably not the only shy person in the room. Whether it’s your first or fifth networking event, look around the room and spot your fellow wallflowers – they’ll be the first people to target.
4 Jump in feet first
When you’re at the event, try not to spend too much time waiting for somebody else to strike up a conversation. When you’ve spotted the other shy ones in the room, approach them and introduce yourself – you can even make a joke of the fact that you’re there alone. Sometimes it pays off to step out of your comfort zone and make the first effort.
5 Have an elevator pitch ready
Prepare a quick statement that tells others who you are, what you do and what you’re passionate about. This should be no longer than 30 seconds, but preferably less – it doesn’t need to be the story of your life. You just want to give people a taster of who you are so they’re intrigued enough to ask more questions and continue the conversation.
6 Keep up appearances
Your tone of voice and body language make up 93% of a person’s impression of you. So try to maintain an open and positive stance with a welcoming smile on your face, and don’t use negative language. You have to find the right balance of confidence and humility – nobody likes a braggart, but you do have to be able to tote your own successes if you want to maintain professional relationships with the people you meet.
7 Have fun
Need we say more? Get out there and enjoy yourself!