I had the pleasure of attending the LSU Manship School of Mass Communication’s Networking Night during the 2014 spring semester. I got inspired to write a blog post to aid people in their quest to be master networkers.
During the event, I found that students were either having uncomfortable, forced conversations or completely avoiding the potential employers. However, I was able to float through the room, leaving memorable impressions and holding meaningful conversations with ease.
I too use to be one of those people who hated networking and was uncomfortable with the notion of smiling in faces looking for an opportunity to be reciprocated. The more opportunities that I had to network, the better I became.
I have put together a list of tips to ease the stress of networking and make it second nature for you.
Keys to Networking:
1. Don’t be interested in the opportunity; be interested in the person providing the opportunity. People commonly walk up to someone and ask, “What can you do for me?” What they should really ask is, “How is your day going?” Being interested in the person allows for you to build a relationship and be more than a nameless face with a resume.
2. Never walk up to someone and babble off your accolades and resume. Networking is about building relationships. You don’t make friends by walking up to a person and recalling all of your achievements, do you? Then why should you treat networking as any different?
3. Never mention what your goal is until asked. Everyone whom successful person/ potential employer has talked to is looking for an opportunity. Set yourself apart by showing interest in what the representative does for the company. They will eventually come to ask you what you want from the company.
4. Get the person talking about himself or herself. Once you find something in common with the person, play on your common interest. To build a relationship at a networking event, you have to be able to make a connection. Being interested in the representative’s story allows for you to listen and find a commonality. Insert that you both have a common interest; it will instantly allow you and the person to bond. Once you found that common ground and made the person comfortable, you can fish for information that other people wouldn’t get about the opportunity.
5. Always compliment, smile and be polite. You always want to be warm and inviting. This doesn’t mean that you have to be overly joyous, but simply content and pleasant.
6. Be confident and own what you say. If you don’t believe what you are saying, then no one else will. Have authority when stating your name and have constant eye contact with the person throughout the conversation. Show people you are not just confident in your abilities, but you are confident in yourself.
If you follow these keys, people will remember you and be interested in keeping you around. By the time the conversation ends, people will ask for your information and offer you theirs. You will stand out from other candidates because you were able to make a connection that allowed you to be memorable and receive the most details. I hope you tackle your next networking event like a 300-pound linebacker, geaux get them tiger!