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 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 getting a degree, just call us at 800.944.7667 or contact an admissions counselor. And if you’re feeling inspired to step up your networking game, take a gander at our #RegisInspired scholarship opportunities as well.