The Engineer: Networking
Hi Guys! This week, we're talking about networking. Now for those of you who don't know, Networking is a process that fosters the exchange of information and ideas among individuals or groups that share a common interest. In other words, it's a way for you to connect and share ideas with people you are meeting.
If you're extroverted or really out-going, networking is probably no problem for you. However, for us introverted folks over here (myself included), networking can be a bit daunting and exhausting making you really not want to do it. Regardless of how you feel about it, you have to do it. In the outside world, life is about who you know and you never know if who you know can take you to the next step in your career or give you your next opportunity to fuel your passions.
I used to dread networking. I would always feel so uncomfortable and plan on making my exit as soon as possible but over the years I've mastered the "art" and I am here to share my tips with you all:
You don't have to go out there and meet 5-7 people at every networking event. Make it your goal to meet 1 new person at an event. That one person can easily become 3 or 4 easily without you having to overwhelm yourself. I've been at events when I started talking to one person and then more and more people join in the conversation. Trust me, it works!
Focus on the Quality not Quantity
Would you rather have 20 mediocre friends or 3 good friends? You should adopt that same approach when it comes to networking. You want the people you're connecting with to know who you are and what you stand for because that is what will propel your relationship forward. If someone in my network were asked, "Hey do you know Soyo?" and there response was "Oh yeah I met her for five minutes that one time. I don't really know that much about her." that would really suck. Your goal is to be able to have people in your network who can vouch for you or feel comfortable recommending you if needed.
Don't just focus on the hire ups. Connect with your peers as well.
I had the opportunity to sit with one of the Managing Directors at my job and one of the best pieces of advice he told me was to "build your own wolf pack." He said that the people who made it to the top made it as a group with their peers. The people next to you (including yourself) will be the next leaders of the company so it's best to build relationships with them now while your young. Knowing senior people at your company is great, but knowing people at your level does have a significant impact as well.
Fake it until you make it.
The only way to improve your networking skills is to just do it. You may stumble the first couple of times but you'll get better and then you'll feel more comfortable. My teammates at work would never know that I'm as shy or as introverted as I am. Why? Because I’ve mastered how to connect with them in a way that feels natural and isn't draining on me. Overtime, you learn how to network in a way that works for you that can help you build your brand and your reputation.
Hope these tips can help you at your next networking event. What are some of your tips? Be sure to share! - The Engineer