Have you ever felt like a fish out of water? The opportunity of a lifetime awaits you, and before you know it *gulp* you’re shoved into a room with people you don’t know but want to, and have no idea how to even start a conversation… with anyone. Networking isn’t a thing that comes easily to everyone. In fact, for most us we get nervous even at the thought of it. What if I try too hard? Who do I talk to? How do I start a conversation up? Am I coming off annoying?
Well have no fear!
Over the years I have learned how to really enjoy networking and become quite good at it. Being in the entertainment industry my entire life, I’ve had to master this. The only way to get work in Hollywood is to know people; the more people you know, the more work you’re likely to get.
The fact of the matter is you have the ability to succeed in all your endeavors… including the networking part. I have learned some tricks to take the pressure off.
Are you ready?
Here it is.
Don’t network. Make friends! There is something so relaxing about walking into a meeting, party, coffee shop, church, anywhere without an agenda behind meeting people. Sure in the beginning it might seem like a lot of work for a “connection.” After all, maintaining relationship takes work. However, I have found that in the long run it definitely pays off. Friends are far more loyal and willing to help other friends than they are acquaintances. Friends are also far more willing to introduce their friends to other friends. And so the cycle continues. Do you get me?
Here are some things that I have learned to become a stellar networker.
1. Look people in the eye.
2. Have a firm handshake.
3. Be confident, you have something to bring to the table.
4. Dress well.
5. Remember their name.
6. Fully focus on them when you are talking with them.
7. Ask questions about their life, career, hobbies, etc.
8. Stay cool and collected. People will have different opinions than you sometimes on hot button issues, that doesn’t mean they aren’t a great person and a great person to work with. It means you have different opinions.
9. Try to find areas of similar interests you share, then converse on those points.
10. Have business cards ready. You don’t need to throw them at everybody, but when you make a connection it’s good to have them on hand.
11. Know your 30 second pitch and two minute pitch, when someone asks you about yourself.
12. Remember details about their life that is important to them, i.e. family members, passion projects, ideologies, etc.
13. Don’t go too deep in conversation, keep it happy and casual.
14. Listen to learn about the person. Don’t worry about pushing an agenda.
15. Relax. There’s no need to put pressure on yourself.
16. Follow-up. It’s awesome to meet new people with similar interests, but it’s better to develop that into a relationship.
17. Have a social media presence. Social media is a great tool to keep up with people without butting into their lives every day.
18. Watch what you post on social media. Don’t burn bridges over a heated Facebook argument. *See #8
19. Be authentic because people can smell bullshit from a mile away.
20. Everyone is important. Don’t dismiss people because they aren’t at the top of their field.
So everyone who is still nervous about it, be encouraged. We were all there once. It’s like anything, the more you do it the easier it becomes.
Also for all of you networking adventurers out there, keep on keeping on, because it is going to pay off. The best upgrades, sweetest memories, and most life-changing moments all come through relationships!