For some people, networking is a way of life. It’s a critical part of gaining new clients, marketing for a business, getting new ideas and keeping up with the competition. It is a key to surviving and thriving in an ever more challenging corporate environment.
And, in spite or because of these things, it can also be a huge drag.
Let’s face it: sometimes networking is no fun. And, doing the “grip and grin” when you’re not in the mood can have a counterproductive effect. So, how do you get out and do it, and do it right, even when you’d rather just blow the whole thing off?
These three tips should help get you in motion even when the couch is singing its most seductive siren song.
Many conferences and meetings are announced and coordinated via electronic services like Eventbrite or some other scheduling method, and committing to the RSVP list is a great way to stay in the game.
Professionals keep their appointments and sending an RSVP to an event, especially when other prospective attendees can see who has registered, is a great way to instill a little automatic incentive in a networking plan.
It’s true that this may not change your mood about attending, but that’s where #2 comes in …
2. Focus on Fun
Sometimes the thought of being professional can get in the way of having fun, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Networking events are typically geared to facilitate interaction, which usually means food, drink and activities are available to help keep the social gears well-oiled.
The recommendation here is to stay engaged. Eat the food, drink the drinks and enjoy it! Let go of the “too cool for school” persona and play the little get-to-know-you games. It’s a great way to inject a little fun into the event and will show people you have charisma.
Studies show time and again that confidence and social savvy gets more deals inked than being smart, and regardless of the rightness of that fact it is more often the one who participates who reaps the rewards.
3. Buddy Up
There are (usually) no rules stating who can attend what networking event, and people can take advantage of that fact by inviting a friend or even a date along for the ride. Of course, it will help if that friend is also interested in the networking community at hand, but even if not it can still make a positive difference.
Having someone else there to share the moment can provide a sounding board for better communication, a foil for added humor or a buffer to help avoid unwanted contact. A good wingman (or wingwoman) can enrich the networking experience by keeping you more engaged and upbeat, especially when conference doldrums set in.
So, remember …
Sign up early, keep fun in mind and invite a friend, and there’s no doubt you’ll get more out of networking more often. Who knows? You may even start to like it.
About the guest author James Madeiros:
James Madeiros writes for Criminal Justice Degree Schools, a career site providing information on how to earn a paralegal degree or criminal justice degree and insights into careers from blood spatter analyst to FBI agent.