A young up and coming star in the start-up world recently confessed to me that he hated networking. I sighed (with great relief on the inside) told him to join the club.
I’ve been to mixers, networking events, tweetups, meetups, etc — all in the name of being more social. When you’re tethered to your computer for most of the sunshiny day, you tend to gravitate towards being as social as you possibly can in the small bursts of availability that you have. Getting yourself “out there” is pretty nebulous for most people. “How do I meet new people?” “What do I say?” “Where do I meet these people?” Oh, the anxiety!
Well, I would not say that I am some sort of networking rock star but I happen to do perfectly fine at events. At first I hated going to them, but after a few events I realized why I disliked them so much. It was my fault. See, I was going into it with some sort of crazy notion that I would meet some fabulous people that I would be able to plug in to whatever my project was at that time. That was the wrong attitude to have!
Stop networking to gain business contacts or collect cards, and just get yourself out there to meet new people. Honestly, the best way to network is to do so with no intentions outside of just making friends. Some people are meant for “working a room,” and all the power to them. However, if that’s not your thing, I am sure that this rather innocuous five step plan can help you!
- Walk up to someone who is alone
- Acknowledge something about the event you’re at
- Introduce yourself
- Ask an open ended question
Are you familiar with the adage, “Only boring people are boring”? Well, if not you should burn that into the insides of your retinas because I find it to be very true. Learn to keep the conversation going and learn to be your true self, and soon, these events will be a piece of cake!