By Mia Casey
I know what you’re thinking: ‘Ew, networking! I don’t want to schmooze with people I don’t know! It’s so uncool!’
Well friends, I’m here to let you know that networking can totally be cool and YOU can totally look cool while networking. Trust me.
So, here are a few quick tips to get you networking with the best of ‘em, and looking cool, calm, and in control while you do.
Know what you’re talking about (aka yourself)
Guys, gals, and non-binary pals it’s time to get thinking about who you are and what you want. Some self-reflection is kind of central if you want to be a totally cool networking genius because networking involves you talking about yourself, at least a little. Usually this self-talk comes in the form of an elevator pitch: a short summary of who you are, what you’re doing (study or work-wise), what you’re hoping to do in the future, and why you’re super interested in the industry.
There are some great articles out there about crafting the ultimate elevator pitch, but here are a couple to get you started:
- Top Ten Tips for Mastering Your Elevator Pitch
- The 4 Commandments for Successful Networking
- How to Network Like a Natural
Know who you’re talking to (aka the other person)
If you’re going to a designated networking event with actual employers, this should be pretty easy to do. Basically, it’s time to do a little bit of online organisation stalking and get to know the companies that are going to be at the event.
If you figure out your top 3-5 organisations you would be interested in connecting with, find out what they’re up to in the news, on their websites, and on their social media accounts, you can casually drop in this information while chatting with them, to show you’re interested and you’ve done your research. Plus it makes you look really well prepared and organised which is a plus.
Dress like you’re visiting your grandma – your cool, fashion-forward grandma
So not everyone has a full suit they can whip out for networking events, which is fair enough. But if you’re able to, it’s still a good idea to put some thought into what you’re wearing when you head off to a networking event.
Generally business attire is a pretty safe bet, but if you are lacking in that particular fashion department, aim for something that’s respectable, clean, and neat – the sort of thing you’d wear to an important event with your kind of conservative but totally fashion-forward grandma.
Act like a normal human being who doesn’t despise socialising
Our final piece of advice may come as a shock to you: the people you’re talking to when you’re networking? They’re people. Weird, I know. As such, they’re going to want to have an actually conversation with you, rather than being stuck in a weird sort of semi-interview where you robotically tell them all of your skills and experience in the hope that you’ll get a job.
Ask them about their roles, their company, or the industry you’re both a part of. Basically, don’t dominate the conversation – treat it like a normal, natural, back-and-forth chat you’d be having with anyone. A big part of being successful is an ability to comfortably communicate with the people around you, so networking is a great way to practice.
Featured image courtesy of Unsplash