I’ve been rambling on and on about networking for months (YEARS!) now… and I just realized… networking can be a dirty word to some. Because I studied business in college, I was taught how to network. (I was actually TAUGHT how to shake hands with people.) It’s always had a very positive connotation to me. It’s how business is done. I realize this is not the case for everyone.
I have a friend (also a business major) who had college roommates in the sciences and liberal arts. They referred to it as “sneaky networking”. They thought it was so sneaky that the business majors were always getting together to “network”. Of course, they were being silly. But, there is some truth to what they called it. Networking can seem like something clique-y, involving secret societies, and good ol’ boy meetings. It sounds so “CORPORATE”. But, it’s not.
Networking is simply the meeting of other people to lay a foundation for business to be exchanged.
Reuters recently reported on a study done by LinkedIn which found that women tend to see networking as risky because women tend to take rejection more personally. This fear of rejection limits the networking that some women do.
If you find networking intimidating, here are 5 ways to get started:
1. Start with 1-to-1 meetings
Attending a networking event with 100s of people you don’t know can be a little intimidating. (This is one of the reasons we started Thursday Therapy as a casual approach to networking.) So, start out with a 1-to-1 coffee date with another wedding pro so that you start getting to know people in an easy setting.
2. Attend a workshop or seminar
Workshops are a FANTASTIC way to meet people in the industry. People are generally there to learn and meet people. Generally, workshops draw people who are open to learning and meeting other people. And, because there is a speaker leading the workshop, there is less pressure on you to do the talking. (Though, there will be time for everyone to participate.) People tend to build strong relationships with people at workshops and seminars because they are sharing a common experience.
3. Get a networking buddy
If you are a little intimidated to attend a networking event, bring someone with you. This could be the person you’ve met on the coffee date. This ensures that you have one “known face” in the sea of strangers. You can lean on each other while meeting others.
4. Read “Never Eat Alone”
The book Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi is fantastic at showing how to network and build relationships. Ferrazzi is a genius at doing this. And, he values the more intimate group dinners as a way to build lasting relationships.
5. Feel the fear
Feeling the fear builds confidence. Easier said than done. But, if you give it a try, you’ll know what I mean. This tends to have a chain reaction throughout every level of your business. Doing something that scares you builds confidence. This confidence makes you stronger at presenting yourself and making sales.
What do you think? What would you recommend to someone new to networking?