In this day and age of social media and smartphones, you may be wondering if in-person networking is a thing of the past. Sure, it’s easier to “make connections” online – but are those connections real?
Trust me, I get it. Networking can be super awkward and uncomfortable. I’m a shy girl who would gladly choose going home to my family than attending another networking event. I’ve tried to “network” using various social media platforms. But lately I’ve had to put on my big girl pants and just get out there! And let me tell you what I’ve learned.
Get over it! Networking isn’t as bad as you’ve led yourself to believe. First of all, you’re not the only person who feels awkward – there’s at least one other person in the room who feels or has felt the same way you’re feeling. So get over it!
Find the right event. There are tons of networking groups out there. In fact, I think you could spend most mornings at a “coffee & connection” meeting and most evenings at a “business after hours” networking event. The trick is to find one that matches your goals. Are you networking for your business or product? Or are you networking to make connections for a career change? Whatever your reason, be selective.
It’s more than just a meeting: Yay you! You made it to your first networking meeting. Now what? Well, remember why you went in the first place… to make connections, right? So, #1 plan to go to another one and #2 reach out to the people you met! A quick email or shout out on social media goes a long way.
Be prepared to be surprised. Approach your next networking event with your eyes wide open and be ready for the unexpected. What I mean is, you may be attending this event for business purposes but leave with new knowledge of a volunteer board you may be interested in joining, or a new restaurant to try. You just never know what nuggets of information you will take away from networking.
And most importantly:
Authenticity. Let it be known that authenticity is actually the #1 lesson you need to learn in business. And the only way to be authentic is to develop real, human connections. You can’t do that online. You have to get out there and talk to people. Create a dialogue; share your passion.
The takeaway? Face-to-face networking is NOT a thing of the past. In fact, I think it’s more important than ever. Whether we know it or not, we all enjoy the times when we can step away from our screens and devices and actually have real conversations.
I encourage you to give it a try.
Project Manager & Data Analyst