When I say “networking”, you probably think of Facebook, LinkedIn, and email.
I know it can be tempting to neglect face to face networking in modern times. Networking online is quicker, easier, and safer (more comfortable with less chance of embarrassment).
But you’re missing out on half of the opportunities if you’re only taking advantage of half of the available networking options. More risk brings more reward. Everyone is networking online. You’re not gaining any advantage by doing it.
It’s time to leave our comfort zone. If you’re truly committed to finding the best opportunities possible and advancing your career to its full potential, you absolutely cannot be avoiding face to face networking opportunities.
Industry conferences and presentations are one of the best places to network. There is no other situation in which you’ll be surrounded by so many like-minded people with common interests and common goals.
Immediately having something in common should eliminate some of the awkwardness when approaching somebody that you don’t know.
If you don’t attend conferences like this, try going to one in the near future. There’s nothing to lose. Sign up for a conference this evening. If you don’t do it right now, you’re unlikely to follow through in the future.
If you already go to conferences like this, ignore the temptation to stick with your usual group of colleagues. You should try to expand outward and meet 2 or 3 new people each time.
What do you have to lose? This is a great opportunity to meet new colleagues and expose yourself to new career opportunities. The people who advance their careers the fastest are the ones taking advantage of these scenarios. They’re doing the difficult networking, not just sitting at home on the computer.
Even casual or informal encounters can be a chance to network. In order to be adequately prepared for unexpected networking opportunities, you need a good elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is an introduction you can use with strangers that typically takes only 20 or 30 seconds to say.
If you haven’t prepared something to say, you’re likely to be too nervous to start conversations with strangers. Even if you do start a conversation without planning out some key points to cover, how effective will it be?
Here’s an example I might use at a networking event or conference for Recruiters and HR Professionals.
Hi, I’m Biron. I work as an Executive Recruiter in the Biopharmaceutical Industry. I’m always interested to meet other like-minded professionals and hear about recruiting and staffing in other industries, so I didn’t want to miss out on a chance to introduce myself to you.
I introduced myself and explained what I do. I then went on to say what I hope to gain from this conversation, and what my motivation is for making this introduction. That’s how simple an elevator pitch is!
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