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Networking for Newbies – Top Tips

First of all, let’s take a look at why you should be networking – it’s a great way of connecting with people and building business relationships that may prove beneficial to you or your company in the future.  It’s not enough to just go to a networking event or trade show and collect as many business cards as possible – people prefer to do business with people they like and have already engaged with, so building a relationship based on mutual trust is essential, and this takes some time to achieve.  These are the relationships that are based on authenticity and your core values.  

If you’re a little on the shy side and find the prospect of networking overwhelming, then don’t despair, you just need to take some time to make sure that you can operate comfortably in a networking environment.  Here are some tips on how to do that:

•Start in your own workplace – get used to chatting to colleagues in your own and other department.  You’re sure to have something in common as you work for the same company so starting a conversation should be easy.  

•Ask colleagues if they are attending any networking events soon and arrange to go together – safety in numbers.  If they’re an old hand at networking, you could ask them to introduce you to new people.  

•If you’re attending a networking event alone, then why not ask the organisers to introduce you to people.

•Remember that networking is a two-way thing – it’s not just about what you can get out of a connection, but what you can give too.  

•When attending an event, get the delegate list in advance and do some research on people you may be able to help so that you can prepare an interesting approach when you meet them.

Meeting new people and getting to know them takes a certain degree of social skill and self-confidence, something that not all of us have in abundance.  Even the most confident of people have a bad day now and again and need to give themselves a boost – this is where false confidence can be your friend.  It’s all about finding ways of bringing this confidence forward to help you sparkle and shine at networking events.  One way of doing so is to choose a topic of conversation to use as back up – if you can find an area of common interest, then it’s much easier to chat away with people you’ve just met.  Another method of drawing on your (false) confidence is to adopt a persona for the day – this is used by a lot of people.  Either be the opposite of your normal self or exaggerate the more confident aspects of your personality and put them to work for you.

Of course, if you’re feeling a little nervous about networking as a newbie, that’s understandable and there’s no real magic cure for this.  The best way to cope is to just take the bull by the horns and plunge in – you never know, you may soon be so busy enjoying yourself, meeting new people and learning new things that you’ll forget you were nervous and thoroughly enjoy the whole event.