By Randy Wooden, Director, Professional Center by Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina
Networking and growing your social network can help your chances of being hired, but I hear a few common challenges people have in social settings. Today, let’s explore five tips for making the most of professional and social networking events, including interactions with friends and your faith or civic organizations. People tend to hire and do business with those they know, like and trust. As they say, it’s both what you know and who you know.
Tip #1. Just do it. For some, meeting new people might feel as uncomfortable as public speaking or going to the dentist. It is okay to be nervous; remember: what is the worst that could happen? We all have things we would prefer to avoid but know we need to do them if we are to achieve certain outcomes. Go for it! The more you network, the more relaxed and confident you will become.
Tip #2. Ask someone you know to introduce you to people they know. Whether or not you are shy, it’s important to speak with people you don’t know to help grow your network of connections.
Tip #3. Keep conversations positive, light and brief. You do not need to give them your life story. Ask open-ended questions. “What do you do?” “What got you into that line of work?” “What are your hobbies?”
When they ask you similar questions, avoid asking for a job. Instead, share some details about the work you would like to do and ask with whom they might suggest you speak about that sort of work.
Tip #4. Ask for their business card so you can follow up on the event. You can send them a brief email referencing some element of the conversation and about how you enjoyed meeting them. If you have a LinkedIn profile, ask send a connection request and work toward sustaining contact beyond that initial meeting.
Tip #5. Have fun! With these tips, you will succeed and build confidence to in growing your network. Good luck!