Networking is considered a professional necessity. Conventional wisdom states that if we don’t build and sustain our networks properly, we’ll lose out on opportunities like promotions, new jobs, and important information.
The bad news: The conventional wisdom is right. The good news: Most of us are networking all wrong. Read on for three simple practices to transform your networking experience.
Practice #1: Match your methods to your style
Traditional networking events were made for a certain type of person: an extrovert. Who else would enjoy entering a room of complete strangers, having a 5-minute conversation with a contact, and then starting a new conversation over and over again?
If you are an extrovert, you’re in luck. The networking world is made for you. Make the most of those large-scale events by:
- Shifting your perspective from “What can that person do for me?” to “What can I do for that person?”
- Debriefing your networking experiences with a colleague to determine how to maintain connections with new contacts.
- Following up with new contacts to cement relationships and keep connections alive.
If you’re not an extrovert, your experience may be a little harder. You’ll need to find ways to network that match your style. Luckily, there are plenty of options. You’ll simply need to be creative. Try these practices to start:
- Seek out opportunities to connect in smaller group settings or one-on-one. These environments are generally more conducive to introverts.
- Find events that have a clear structure for interaction. Often, introverts do better meeting strangers through a defined process than through open-ended, free-flowing conversation.
For more ideas on how introverts can excel at networking without changing your personality, try The Introvert’s Survival Guide to Networking.