Job Search Tips

Networking tips: 4 tried & tested ways to feel less awkward

October 3, 2018

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If you’re anything like me, going to a social event (whether for work or pleasure) on your own isn’t high up on the list of things you love doing.

For years, making those first connections used to dread me with fear and prevented me from going to events and meet new people. Rocking up solo and trying to break the ice with someone was just not my thing.

I knew this was not good.

You can try to ignore it, but meeting new people and building your network is essential when you want to further your career or grow your business.

It’s like a car and fuel. You can get in the car, but you won’t get very far without the fuel.

Career and business opportunities rarely happen in isolation. They usually happen when you meet someone new or through your network, for example through someone you already know and bumped into at that recent event.

So I figured I had to do something. I had to get over that fear of going to an event by myself.

Since then I’ve learnt and adopted some successful strategies that have made a world of difference. Truth be told, I still don’t looooove going to events on my own, but it’s no longer a big deal or a problem. I just do it.

Here are my 4 top strategies to help you do the same.

networking tips 4 ways to feel less awkward

A foolproof introduction

If you’re struck for words when meeting someone new, try this:

Hey, I’m [your name]. I don’t think we’ve met yet.

Not exactly rocket science, but it works – especially if you follow it up with “what made you come here today?”.

Look, an awful lot of people feel quite anxious about going to an event and not knowing anyone or having anyone to speak with. They’re probably glad you mustered up the courage to chat with them and started a conversation.

Be interested, not interesting

The key to making a good first impression is to simply start a conversation in a human way and ask the other person some questions that show that you’re genuinely interested in getting to know them.

Science has shown that the best first impressions are made when someone shows they’re interested, instead of trying to be interesting. Focus on getting to know the other person – think what you’d like to know or learn about the other person, ask questions and listen to what they’re saying.

Leave your elevator pitches at home and just be someone who’s interested in other people. Being interested will make you interesting.

Go for the low hanging fruit

Don’t make things harder for yourself than they are. Walking up to a group of people and trying to join in on the conversation when you know no one is seriously tough.

It’s a lot easier to initiate a conversation with someone who’s also on their own.

You’ll often find people on their own at the start of the event and by the bar, the coffee and tea table or the food buffet. So arrive at the event on time, when more people are still on their own, and head to the refreshment and food areas whenever you want to chat to someone new.

Little things like that can make a big difference.

Just do it

Finally, stop overthinking it and just make yourself go to events.

As with any fear, facing up to it is often a brilliant way to get over it.

Once you’ve gone to a few events on your own, you’ll start to realise that it wasn’t so scary after all and that you survived. You may even have made some great new connections and had a genuinely good time.

The more you rock up solo, the more confident you’ll get – and one day in the not too distant future, you’ll be surprised that it’s no longer a big deal to go to events on your own.

You got this,

Iris x

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