Networking is a skill we all need. It’s also a skill everybody can improve on. But if the mere thought of introducing yourself to a room full of people you don’t know, one by one, gives you the shivers, then you’ll need a plan to get better at it.
Research shows that over 40 percent of people have landed a job through networking. If you need to brush up on your skills and gain some confidence working your way around a room, here are five things to try:
- Reconnect with old colleagues. LinkedIn’s “people you may know” feature is eerily accurate. It’s also an incredibly simple way to reconnect with former coworkers – the folks who are familiar with your skills and expertise. Expand your social network and reacquaint yourself with people you already know.
- Sign up for an event. Find a professional association in your area and sign up for an event. Commit to heading out the door and meeting someone new. You can do a lot of legwork online, but eventually, you’re going to have to shake some hands.
- Prepare three icebreaker questions. Don’t settle for the obvious “what do you do?” or “who do you work for?” Start conversations with open-ended topics that’ll resonate with people on a personal level, like “got any travel plans?” or “been to a great restaurant lately?” Build a rapport with someone rather than just asking for a business card.
- Manage expectations. Don’t expect to leave cocktail hour with a job offer and a company car. Set a goal to meet one or two new people. Or ask someone you already know to introduce you to someone they know. Connections are about quality, not quantity.
- Master the art of give and take. If you ask someone to make a connection for you, offer to reciprocate. By sharing your contacts and experiences, people will be more apt to share with you.
Another great way to make new connections – going back to school. Your classmates likely work in your field and will have experiences and resources to share. If you’re ready to explore the other benefits of furthering your education, just call us at 800.944.7667 or contact an admissions counselor.