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I know that you’ve heard it before: networking is SO important! Whether you are a business owner looking for clients or an employee looking for your next big promotion, putting yourself out there and meeting new people is key in helping you find new opportunities that excite you. Especially in today’s world, it is crucial to network and to learn how to network effectively. That is why I brought the queen of networking herself, Jennifer Robinson of Purposeful Networking, on this week’s episode of the Stress-Less Career Show to share valuable ways you can improve your networking skills and make the most of your networking efforts.
Networking is tough for a lot of us. It can be overwhelming to walk into an event with a bunch of new people and know exactly how to strike up a conversation with person after person. Knowing this, the first networking tip that Jennifer has is simple: don’t set yourself up for failure. Look at the networking event details and choose the events to go to based on what kind of networking environment you will be the most comfortable.
“If you’re somebody that likes small groups, don’t start out with going to 100 or 200 person event where you’re going to be extremely uncomfortable. If you’re not a morning person. Don’t schedule your networking event for breakfast.”
The goal at a networking event is to be the best version of yourself and so you want to put yourself in an environment that will allow you to show that version of you off.
In addition to setting yourself up for success, Jennifer’s next tip is one that I stress to my clients. It is one that has helped her in her own business as well. Before you walk into an event, you need to know what your networking goals are. Jennifer started her business after a career and background in litigation. As she grew her business, networking was crucial in her success. It took time for her to learn how to network effectively. Initially, she would go to any event just to try and get the word out about her new business. However, she realized that this was not serving her or her business.
“Everybody will say your best commodity is time… You really have to think about: Why am I going to this event? Why does this organization make sense? What are my goals? Who am I trying to meet? Who’s going to be in the room? Those are options that you really need to think about before you commit the time and the money to go to an event.”
This tip can save you from not only wasting your resources on events or networking organizations that do not lead to meeting the people you need to meet but also can keep you from constantly draining your energy. “When I started, I would say for the first year or two I just found myself exhausted all the time. And it’s funny because now people always say, ‘Is there two of you? You’re everywhere and you’re at five things a day,’ but I’m actually at a lot less [networking events] than I used to be and I’m a lot more targeted about it than I used to be.”
Jennifer’s final tip is especially important for us female networkers. Try to make sure you go to co-ed and industry-specific events to network as well as gender-specific events. “As women, we tend to network with our own… it’s awesome to network with your own sex. You have common bonds and support each other. Depending on your business, it’s also really important to network not only in a co-ed atmosphere but also in industry-specific atmospheres.”
Diversify strategically the types of events you go to. Ensure that you meet even more new people at each event you go to. Networking is more than just something you need to check off your to-do list. It is a key tool in helping you connect with people and cultivate a career that you love. You should approach networking in a strategic and positive mindset because, as Jennifer mentioned,
“If you can’t show up as your best self, just stay home… If you’re not in a good space, it’s the worst time you could try to make a first impression on somebody whether it’s for a personal or business contact.”
Carlee Myers is an expert at helping professionals who feel overworked, overwhelmed or on the verge of burnout relieve stress so they can find more joy at work, home, and beyond. As the founder of Work You Love, Carlee has helped hundreds of people across the country take action to reduce stress through a combination of coaching and ‘creative stress reduction’ – a no-one-size-fits-all approach to stress management.