In a world where your contacts list is your safety net and your secret weapon, networking is one of the most important social skills that you don’t want to skip.
But if you’re are an introvert, suffer from anxiety, are out of practice when it comes to social activities, or just shy and feeling in over your head, you may be thinking success is out of your reach.
If that is the case, then you’re fear of networking ends now!
As always, Jaunty is here with the expert tips to help you overcome social anxiety and learn the social skills you need to start taking control of your own destiny.
“It’s not just who you know. It’s who you are going to meet next.”– Ancient Jaunty proverb
Learning how to network is your golden ticket, and we’ve got the expert tips on how to get out of your head and be present, effortlessly break the ice with anyone and leave a legendary impression, everywhere you go.
How To Overcome Fear Of Networking And Network With Anyone
If you’ve ever found yourself at a party, event, or conference, feeling shy and clutching your drink with sweaty palms, unsure of how to read social cues and desperately trying to muster the courage to mingle and chat with strangers, know this:
You are not alone.
Networking anxiety and fear is very common among professionals, particularly those who are introverted, new to an industry, or just not used to socializing in a professional setting anymore due to the move to remote work. The fear of networking can be caused by a variety of factors including social anxiety, lack of confidence, fear of rejection, or feeling like you don’t belong.
Whether you’re eyeing that dream job or looking to make new friends, knowing how to network effectively can make all the difference.
Networking can be intimidating at first, but learning the following skills can be a game-changer.
1. Focus on the other person and listen actively
When networking, direct your attention towards the person you’re talking to. Show genuine interest by using eye contact, nodding in agreement, and asking follow-up questions. Actively listen to their responses and avoid distractions. This will help you build rapport and make the other person feel valued.
2. Ask open-ended questions to encourage conversation
To keep a conversation going, ask open-ended questions that require more than a simple “yes” or “no” answer. This will prompt the other person to share their thoughts and experiences, creating opportunities for deeper connections.
3. Come prepared with a clear goal in mind
Before networking, have a clear goal in mind, such as meeting new people or learning about a specific industry. This will help you stay focused and make the most of your interactions.
4. Use a prepared icebreaker or light-hearted comment to break the ice
Start conversations on a positive note by using a prepared icebreaker or sharing a light-hearted comment about the event or surroundings. This can help create a relaxed atmosphere and make it easier to connect with others.
5. Find common ground and encourage others to talk about themselves
Look for shared interests, experiences, or goals to establish rapport and make conversations more engaging. Ask open-ended questions that encourage the other person to share their thoughts and experiences. This will help you build stronger connections and make networking more enjoyable.
6. Be fully present and engaged in the conversation
Avoid distractions and be fully present during networking interactions. Focus on the person you’re talking to, actively listen to their responses, and avoid checking your phone or looking around the room. This will make a positive impression and help you make meaningful connections.
7. Maintain open body language and use gestures
Appear approachable by maintaining open body language, such as uncrossing your arms, making eye contact, and smiling. Use appropriate gestures to emphasize your points and make your conversations more dynamic and interesting.
8. Use the person’s name a few times during the conversation
Show that you value the conversation and the person by using their name a few times during your interaction. This personal touch helps create a connection and makes a positive impression.
9. Take notes after meaningful conversations
After a significant networking conversation, jot down some notes about the person and the topics discussed. This will help you remember important details and make it easier to follow up with them and continue the conversation over text later on.
10. Practice networking regularly to improve your skills
Take advantage of every opportunity to network and practice your skills. The more you network, the more comfortable and confident you’ll become in different situations. Regular practice will also help you expand your network and build valuable connections.
11. Network before job searching
Start networking before you need a new job or are actively searching for a job. Building connections and relationships in advance will give you a network of contacts to tap into when you need job leads or advice.
12. Use humor to break the ice
Being funny in conversation can help across most interpersonal interactions, including networking. Share a light-hearted comment or a funny observation to break the ice and create a relaxed atmosphere. Humor can help you connect with others and make networking more enjoyable.
13. Talk to people everywhere you go
Networking is not limited to formal events. Make it a habit to engage in conversations with people from various backgrounds and in different settings. This will improve your conversation skills, expand your network, and make you more comfortable in any networking situation.
How To Network Anywhere
The art of networking is not confined to a corporate seminars and business conference. Networking can be practiced in many different settings, but each comes with its own unique opportunities and challenges. Whether you’re at your workplace, a university, a coworking space, or even online, there are strategies you can employ to build meaningful connections.
Here’s how to network effectively in every situation:
How To Network at Work
|Engage with colleagues by asking about their current projects or roles.
|Participate actively in team meetings and contribute your ideas.
|Offer help when a colleague is facing a challenge.
|Join workplace clubs or groups to meet people from different departments.
|Attend company social events and engage in conversations outside of work topics.
|Ask for introductions to colleagues in other departments or roles.
|Express interest in cross-departmental projects to broaden your network.
|Be respectful and professional in all interactions.
How To Network at Industry Meetups
|Engage with others by asking about their roles and experiences in the industry.
|Participate actively in discussions and share your insights.
|Offer your perspective on industry trends or challenges.
|Connect with speakers or organizers for further discussions.
|Follow up after the meetup with people you had meaningful conversations with.
|Volunteer to help organize future meetups to expand your network.
|Be open-minded and respectful of diverse perspectives.
How To Network at University or College
|Engage with classmates by discussing coursework or shared interests.
|Join clubs or societies to meet people from different courses or faculties.
|Participate in study groups or projects to build relationships.
|Connect with professors or lecturers during office hours or after class.
|Attend career fairs or alumni events to connect with industry professionals.
|Volunteer for university events or initiatives to expand your network.
|Be respectful and open to learning from others’ experiences.
How To Network at Coworking Spaces
|Engage with others by asking about their businesses or projects.
|Participate in coworking social events to meet more members.
|Offer to help and collaborate with others on shared challenges.
|Ask for introductions to members who might share your interests or goals.
|Respect others’ space and time, especially when they’re busy.
|Be open to collaborations and partnerships with other businesses.
|Be friendly and approachable, creating a positive working environment.
How To Network at Conferences
|Engage with speakers post-presentation.
|Ask open-ended questions about their professional insights.
|Practice active listening and mindfulness. Be present and engaged.
|Meet various attendees and learn from their expertise.
|Initiate conversations using event-related icebreakers.
|Set realistic goals and take notes after networking conversations.
|Use humor and gestures to make conversations engaging.
How To Network at Social Events
|Engage actively in group conversations.
|Ask open-ended questions and listen actively.
|Meet new people and learn from their experiences.
|Initiate conversations using personal icebreakers.
|Set networking goals and take notes post-conversations.
|Use humor and gestures to make conversations lively.
How To Network Online
|Send personalized connection requests and ask insightful questions.
|Practice active listening and stay focused.
|Connect with new people and participate in online discussions.
|Find common ground and build relationships early on.
|Set networking goals and take notes post-conversations.
|Use digital gestures to make messages expressive.
How do you network if you’re an introvert?
Introversion is not a barrier to effective networking, but rather a different style of social interaction that can be leveraged to your advantage. It is a common misconception that networking is an extrovert’s game. In fact, introverts often make excellent networkers due to their ability to listen, observe, and form deep connections.
When you’re shy or an introvert, it’s important to start with making small talk and take gradual steps to build your confidence in networking. Begin by attending events with a friend or setting a goal to speak to just one or two people. Focus on asking open-ended questions to encourage others to share more about themselves. This way, you are directing the conversation without the pressure of talking too much. As you get more comfortable, you can slowly increase your interaction and start building meaningful relationships.
We’ve recently had the pleasure of helping a very successful Jaunty student who was a self-diagnosed “chronic introvert.” She used to struggle with social anxiety, especially in large groups and work events. After attending Jaunty’s social skills course, she learned to slow down, release tension, and open up to her dream of a new and improved social life. She went from being a guarded introvert to a confident, socially adept individual, demonstrating that introverts can indeed master the art of networking.
How can networking improve your career?
Networking is a powerful tool for career advancement. It can help you gain insights into your industry, stay on top of trends, uncover job opportunities, and even secure promotions. The more people you know in your field, the more resources you have at your disposal.
One Jaunty graduate working in the video game industry needed to quickly boost his social agility when he started his own game audio company. His networking skills were put to the test at a game developers conference in San Francisco, and through applying the techniques and social skills learned through Jaunty, he was able to connect with potential clients faster and easier, even securing a dream gig. His story is just one of many that illustrates how effective networking can lead to tangible career benefits.
Networking is a multi-faceted interpersonal skill that can significantly boost your career. The key is to engage actively, be open to learning and sharing, and building relationships based on mutual respect and support.
When you actively engage in networking, you open yourself up to a plethora of benefits that can significantly improve your career. Here’s how:
1. Access to Hidden Job Market
Many job openings are never advertised and are filled through word of mouth. When you have a strong network, you’re more likely to find out about these hidden opportunities. Colleagues and contacts might tip you off about positions within their companies or recommend you to their employers.
2. Valuable Insights and Knowledge
Networking allows you to engage with professionals from diverse backgrounds. These individuals can provide you with insights and knowledge that you may not have access to otherwise. This can include industry trends, best practices, and even specific advice that can help you overcome challenges you face in your career.
3. Building Your Personal Brand
As you network, you are also marketing yourself. It’s an opportunity to build your personal brand and establish yourself as a professional within your industry. When people in your network think of someone with your skills, you want to be the first person that comes to their mind.
4. Mentorship Opportunities
Mentorship is invaluable in career development, and frequent networking can lead to finding great role models. A good mentor can provide guidance, support, and open doors to opportunities that can help you grow in your career. Likewise, mentoring others can enhance your leadership skills.
5. Developing Soft Skills
Networking often involves social interaction and engagement which can help in developing your soft skills. This includes communication, emotional intelligence, and interpersonal skills which are essential in any career.
6. Increasing Your Confidence
The more you network, the more comfortable you become in interacting with professionals from various levels. This increased comfort can translate into improved confidence, which is an invaluable trait in any professional setting.
7. Expanding Your Perspective
Engaging with people from different fields or specializations within your industry can help you see things from a different perspective. This expanded viewpoint can encourage innovation and creativity in your own work.
8. Creating Professional Relationships
Building relationships is at the heart of networking. These relationships can be a source of support throughout your career. Having a solid network of professionals can be reassuring, knowing you have a community you can turn to for advice, collaboration, or assistance.
9. Negotiation Leverage
Having a network can provide you with more leverage when negotiating salaries or promotions. Being well-connected and having options might make employers more likely to meet your terms.
10. Personal Growth and Satisfaction
Networking is not just about professional gains; it can also contribute to personal growth. The relationships built can lead to friendships and a sense of community. This can provide personal satisfaction and enrichment that goes beyond the workplace.
How can networking skills improve personal relationships?
Networking skills are not just for the professional realm. They can also enhance personal relationships by improving communication, understanding, and empathy. The ability to listen effectively, ask meaningful questions, and express oneself clearly can significantly improve interactions with family and friends.
Another one of our students, an engineer who initially joined to get ahead in his career, found that the skills he learned in the course and online social skills workshops helped him not only in building the confidence he needed to attend professional networking events but also in his personal life. He learned to listen more effectively, which improved his relationship with his wife. Instead of trying to fix her problems, he learned to offer sympathy and work towards positive solutions. His story demonstrates how networking skills can have far-reaching benefits beyond the professional sphere.
How can you improve your networking skills?
Improving your networking skills involves a combination of learning new strategies, practicing them in real-world situations, improving your work-life balance, and reflecting on your experiences to identify areas for improvement. It’s important to remember that networking is a skill, and like any skill, it can be developed and honed over time.
1. Learn From The Success Of Others
Look for successful networkers in your field and observe their techniques. You can also read books, attend seminars, or take online courses on networking.
2. Research And Set Goals
Before attending a networking event, research the speakers and attendees, set specific goals, and be prepared for the outcomes you want to achieve. Whether it’s meeting a certain number of people, securing a few job interviews, or simply improving your conversation skills, having a clear objective can help you stay focused and motivated.
3. Practice Active Listening
Networking isn’t just about talking; it’s also about listening to what others have to say. Practice active listening by showing genuine interest in the other person, asking follow-up questions, and summarizing their points to show that you understand.
4. Improve Your Communication Skills
Effective networking requires clear and confident communication. Practice your speaking skills, work on maintaining eye contact, and learn how to express your ideas succinctly and persuasively.
5. Attend More Networking Events
The best way to improve your networking skills is to practice them in real-life situations. Attend networking events in your industry, join professional organizations, or participate in online networking forums.
6. Always Follow Up
After meeting someone new, always follow up with a quick email or message to express your appreciation for the conversation. This not only helps to solidify the relationship, but also shows that you’re proactive and professional.
7. Be Genuine
People can tell when you’re not being genuine, so always be yourself when networking. Show genuine interest in others and strive to build meaningful relationships, rather than just trying to get something out of the interaction.
8. Stay Positive and Open-Minded
Maintain a positive attitude and be open to meeting all kinds of people. You never know who might be able to help you, or who you might be able to help in return.
9. Reflect and Adjust
After each networking event, reflect on what went well and what didn’t. Use this feedback to adjust your approach and continually improve your networking skills.
10. Be Patient
Building a strong network takes time, so be patient with yourself. Remember that every interaction is a learning opportunity and a step closer to achieving your networking goals.
Networking Doesn’t Have To Feel Forced Or Be Scary
It’s normal to feel a little nervous or apprehensive about networking, especially when you’re shy or out of practice. However, it’s important to remember that networking is about building genuine relationships, not just exchanging business cards.
Jaunty provides people the tools and techniques they need to become effective networkers. The course covers everything from body language, and conversation starters to storytelling and persuasion. Participants are encouraged to set goals and push themselves to meet them, leading to noticeable improvements in their networking abilities.
Don’t Do It Alone: Jaunty Can Help
Jaunty is the gym for your social life and social skills. We believe that everyone can improve their communication skills and social life. We provide the training that can help you truly thrive in any social setting. Our teachings have helped entrepreneurs, busy professionals, new grads, and top level executives at major companies.
If you are facing issues ranging from social anxiety, introversion or shyness, or you’re just feeling rust and out of practice – anyone who wants to boost their networking skills can learn everything they need from Jaunty’s Social Skills Masterclass.
Partnering with a social skills coach from Jaunty can help you navigate the complexities of networking and equip you with the tools to build meaningful connections.
A Social Skills Coach can help you:
- Overcome anxiety and nervousness in social settings
- Master the art of conversation and active listening
- Build genuine relationships with people from all walks of life
- Develop a positive mindset and self-confidence
- Understand and apply the principles of attraction
- Follow up effectively after networking events
Don’t let the challenges of networking hold you back from achieving your professional and personal goals. With Jaunty, you can take control of your social skills and become a networking pro.