Whether you're an introvert or an extrovert, networking can be overwhelming. Like, who's to say you're entitled to walk right up to the CEO of that major company you want to work for and introduce yourself?
If there's anything worth learning, it's that networking is most effective when it's done in an authentic way. Here are five ways to network in a genuine, non-scammy way:
1. Don’t be afraid to make the first move; it shows confidence.
I know it may feel a little unnatural (especially as a woman) to just walk up to a stranger and start up a conversation but trust me, it goes a long way.
Because the person isn't expecting you to say hi, it impresses them even more. Plus always keep in mind (especially at a networking event) everyones there to meet people! So even if it doesn't SEEM like they want to talk because they aren't approaching you, they probably do - they just don't have the confidence. I usually like to open with a compliment. It's a good ice breaker.
2. Mirror their body language
This is something I naturally do without noticing just because I feed off of peoples energy and some of you may, too, but if we really broke it down, the technique is: Each person is unique and has unique mannerisms. If they talk faster with a higher voice, you do that (in a way that doesn’t seem condescending!), they talk a bit slower with a drawl, you meet them there. They could be doing things like touching their hair or just how they stand - you can mirror in many ways!
3. Ask them 2 questions that are unrelated to work – ie: Where are you from? What brings you to this event?
My favorite go-to questions are: "Are you from this city?" and "What brought you here?" IN THAT ORDER. Finding out where someone is from is the easiest way to find a commonality or put them in the driver's seat. Your answer will either be, "I'm from there too!" or, if they’re from somewhere you’ve never been to or don’t know much about, ask them to tell you! People love educating other people (bigs up their ego and makes them feel smart).
So now you have them feeling happy, you ask them your second question of, “What brought you here?” This will be very telling because it is at this moment that you need to LISTEN. They are telling you what they do without you having to ask that cringy question, “So what do you do?”
4. Find commonality
Finding a common ground is super important, so I suggest not talking to them about work UNTIL you find something you have in common. This establishes a camaraderie and a feeling of being on the same team.
5. Then you can bring up work.
Simply put: Don't bring up work until you talk about a non work topic to connect on. It feels disingenuous and thirsty and to those over 50 reading this I’m not talking about feeling dehydrated...I mean, it comes off desperate.
So there are my tips! I hope they helped! If you want any more advice, feel free to hit me up on Instagram. "Happy Networking!"