Networking…enough to strike fear in the heart of every introvert reading this right now. Unfortunately it’s a necessary evil – up to 70% of jobs aren’t even advertised which makes the age-old adage ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ your new life motto.
To try and alleviate the stress that goes into walking up to a stranger and initiating a conversation, here are some tips to help break the ice.
Ask lots of questions
For the most part, people love talking about themselves. By asking some thoughtful questions, the pressure is off you to think of something poignant to say in the first few minutes of the conversation. If you know who you will be meeting, make sure you do some research and put some thought into the questions you want to ask that person. Otherwise, some good conversation starters include:
- What is the competition for jobs like in this career?
- What would you look for in a new applicant for the work?
- Is there a typical career pattern for new graduates in this field?
- Which parts of this field are expanding and likely to offer opportunities in the future?
Alternatively titled, fake it ’til you make it.
Even if you are really nervous, act confident and enthusiastic. Lead with a firm handshake and a smile – first impressions do count, so make a good one.
Set yourself a target
If you are the type of person that responds to a challenge, set yourself a target for the number of people you want to meet. This strategy might be just what you need to push yourself out of your comfort zone.
You’ve got to the end of the networking evening and managed to get away with your dignity in tact – now make sure you don’t let the conversation go cold. If you receive a business card or contact details from someone, email them the next day and reiterate that it was great to meet them and thank them for the advice.