You might think that enjoyable and networking are two words that can never appear together in the same sentence! It is very common to find networking difficult, uncomfortable, too time-consuming and best avoided. If this is your current thinking, take a look at “Do I really have to network?” to help you to approach networking more positively and with confidence. If you’re ready to give networking a try, here are some key tips and ideas for making it enjoyable:
- You already know how to network. It is part of life and you probably spend a lot of your time asking people for advice, information and recommendations in a natural, easy way.
- Practise telling your story before you start out networking, so that you are comfortable and fluent with it.
- Be realistic. You are unlikely to come away from your first meeting with a job offer. Or your 10th meeting. Or even your 20th. But each meeting you have will be taking you one step closer to your goal.
- Be really clear about your goal for the networking meeting. It is much easier for people to be helpful to you if they understand what you need. Are you looking for information about the requirements for a particular type of role that interests you? Do you want to understand an industry or organisation better? Are you looking for insights into specific people? Do you need advice on how to find a particular role? Are you looking for further contacts? Do you want ideas on where your skills and talents might fit in an organisation?
- Work out why it would be helpful for the person you want to contact to meet you. Remember that people are always on the look out for new information. What insights, knowledge, experience, skills, talents and network do you have? You always have something to offer!
- Think, in advance, what will make each meeting a success for you and celebrate your success afterwards. If you think of the meeting as a chance to talk about something that is interesting and important to you (an area that interests you & your future career), you are more likely to feel positive about your experience.
- Keep your meetings short. People are busy and so if you say you’ll only need 20/30 minutes of someone’s time, keep to your commitment. That way you make sure you don’t cause irritation.
- Find a networking buddy. This is a supporter who can encourage you to get started and to keep going, someone to discuss your meeting preparation with who will also enjoy hearing about your experience.