Let’s be honest, if you are reading this blog post, you might not be all that comfortable in networking situations. And that’s okay. It is actually pretty natural. If you are unpracticed, networking can be pretty daunting. Try these tips to make the experience more comfortable.
1) Friends make the best networking partners. I have said many times, but the most effective way to make networking more comfortable is to bring friend. You will have someone who you can chat with in between new meetings and someone to supplement conversation. If you can, try to bring a more outgoing friend who will have no problems helping kick off new conversation with new people.
2) Work a pattern. Sometimes the easiest way to have comfort in a new situation is to control as many variables as possible. Now, we can’t control for every variable, but one thing we can control is how we work a room. I recommend a clockwise approach, but this is completely arbitrary. I often hear from people that like to make a straight line to the food or drink table and start there and move on. The important thing is to have a plan.
3) Don’t worry about talking, just listen. Often the discomfort in networking comes down to not knowing what to say at what times. We put tremendous pressure on ourselves sometimes. So instead of worrying about what to say, have a few pocketed questions that encourage others to carry the conversation. “What brought you here? What do you do? Where are you from?” These are all pretty common questions, but by actively listening you won’t feel the pressure of carrying the conversation.