“My brain is the key that sets me free.” — Harry Houdini
When we’re out of our comfort zone in any situation including networking, it’s stressful. Thankfully, we can control our mindset going in. This article provides strategy tips for changing your mindset so you can take relationship-building actions.
I find truth in that when I go to a networking event and remind myself that most people in the room are there for the very same reason. Not to close a deal or find a job, but to meet other professionals, learn about others, and discover their own confidence. Magically, when you “put yourself out there” to build relationships, good things happen; a new customer, a referral or mentor and possibly a new friend.
During our initial live launch for 2Actify, the most popular question about online networking was: “You mean I have to reach out to someone I don’t know?” The answer is, Absolutely, it’s time to talk to strangers! Once the students wrapped their arms around how to reach out online, they understood that creating a habit of reaching out would lead to success. And it did—all in the class had a career started in their field of study within 2 months or prior to graduation.
Online networking has similarities to live event networking, but requires unique communication skills. What makes networking and talking to new people so traumatizing? It begins with our own fears and expectations. What if you went into networking without the pressure of thinking you had to ask for a job—could you relax in a social setting if your only objective was to meet new people with common interests or that you can also be a resource to those you reach out to.
Making Real Connections
I’ve have met some incredible professionals through online networking and expect to stay in touch with them through the remainder of my career. They believe in reciprocity, follow-up and thinking about who they can introduce within their network.
In one example, I met Mark. Going in, I knew he was not a potential client but a pro that could get me on a fast track to understand some of the inner workings of higher education.
Mark introduced me to a few professionals that were open for discussion. In turn, I reciprocated with an online class to his staff on promoting their content on LinkedIn.
Introductions are key to opening doors and networking is the path that gets you there. 6 Tips…
- Set a time and connection goal. For example: 30 minutes/day, reach out to 10 new or current “ideal” connections/day.
- Be clear on why do you want to meet the pros you’re reaching out to: referral, information, advice, etc.
- Identify 3 specific issues you could use guidance on as you research a company or person. When you’re prepared with a purpose, reaching out becomes less stressful.
- If they are not yet in your network, invite them to connect. With those you’re already connected to, reach out with a message and ask for an introductory meeting or phone call.
- With an introduction meeting, tell them why you’re asking for their assistance such as “exploring career paths” or “how did you land in your current role”, or “what training do you recommend for advancing myself in program management”, etc.
- At the end of the call, ask who else they would recommend you reach out to.
Contributed by Penny Pearl, the 2Actify Team