For some people, meeting and making new friends is the easiest thing in the world.
Somehow, it just comes naturally to them; however, for those of us on the other end of the spectrum, mixing and mingling with strangers can be extremely difficult.
While there is nothing wrong with being shy, certain occasions such as attending networking events where you are expected to connect with other professionals may certainly begin to cause some anxiety.
Well, good news! This stress is completely avoidable! The next time you find yourself at a networking event, try to use these helpful tips and you just might find you’ve transformed from that shy professional you once were to a networking social butterfly!
Do Your Homework and Have a Plan
Walking up to someone you’ve never met and know absolutely nothing about and striking up a conversation out of thin air is tough and definitely not for everyone. A great way to avoid this situation is to know exactly who you want to meet and why. If possible, get a list of those that will be attending the event in order to decipher those individuals ahead of time. If this isn’t possible arrive at the event a little early and ask the organizer for this information to make your plan from there.
Having a solid plan in place will ease even the shyest professional’s nerves!
Change The Way You Think About Networking
There are a lot of things in your life you can’t control, but your attitude is something that you alone control! If you go into a networking event with a negative attitude, then chances are you probably won’t have the best experience. Be positive! Positivity will help conversations become more engaging and valuable. Furthermore, your positivity will help you appear more confident to those around you despite what you may be feeling on the inside.
Try to avoid thinking of networking events as these huge daunting tasks with the added pressure of meeting and connecting with a whole group of strangers. Networking events are a unique experience for you to meet others in your industry and a place for you to possibly get advice from and connect with those with completely different points of view. Most important, these events are meant to be fun!
Attend Virtual Networking Events
Although attending these events may be somewhat stressful for you, it is necessary and it does get easier over time. However, every once in a while you can take the pressure off yourself by attending virtual networking events, using sites such as Mingle or LinkedIn. There are plenty of these events available to you, just take the time to look for them! You may find that by attending these virtual sessions, your comfort level increases with the thought of attending face-to-face events.
We cannot all be center of attention, eye catching, extroverts; but, in the professional world, we can all benefit from learning how to make strong connections in a networking setting. So next time you receive an email invitation for one of those chamber luncheons or after hours social, graciously accept and follow these three tips. You may be surprised at how social you can be!