This article was written by Scott Dinsmore of Live Your Legend and is spot on when it comes to networking and connecting with people in and out of your industry. Meeting people can be intimidating, especially if you’re not sure what to say, how to engage, or know when it’s time to leave the conversation. Scott provides some great tips below. One thing to note: you may not always know the names of who will be at a networking event, but knowing the types of connections you want to make is very important. If you’re not sure who you can collaborate or work with in your industry, or where to go to Network – visit our Career Research page for more info.
I. Get Your Mind Right
None of this stuff works (or is any fun) if you aren’t coming from the right place…
1. See strangers as friends you haven’t met yet. Thinking about a room of strangers is often intimidating enough to keep you from ever showing up. It’s also usually not true. If you’ve picked an event that aligns with who you are, the people you’re about to meet are your people. Approach conversations knowing you have beliefs and ideas in common.
Reframing strangers as friends also makes it a lot easier to know what to do. With good friends, we listen, try to help, make introductions, remember names and talk about shared passions – all of which we’ll cover below. We do not try to dominate the conversation, shove our product or website down their throat or think about how we can use them to move up some ladder. Treat them as friends you’ve yet to meet and the rest of this stuff becomes pretty obvious.
2. Know that there’s possibility in every conversation. I’ve experienced enough serendipity to know that every new event or interaction has the potential to lead to a new friend, partner or idea. Approach new people that way and it starts to become self-fulfilling.
3. Realize everyone is as scared as you are. No matter how unknown or well known someone is, we all share fears of being in a room with no familiar faces, feeling lonely and not fitting in. That’s natural. Your situation is not special. It’s normal. As soon as you realize you’re in the same place as everyone around you, new faces start to feel a lot more welcoming.
4. Be there to help. Sure, you want to meet people to help build out whatever you’re working on, and that will come. But real connection is built from genuinely caring about serving the people around you. If that’s not your intention, then you’ve come to the wrong place and most of your efforts will backfire. Constantly come back to adding value. People will feel it and your conversations and results will be all the richer for it.
CONTINUE READING HERE FOR THE REMAINING TIPS, keeping in mind that Scott references some of these tips to his own personal networking sessions. The same ideals apply to your scenarios as students and recent alums making new connections. Good luck!