Meeting people in a purely professional context can be nerve wracking, especially if “small talk” isn’t quite your thing. Placing yourself in a setting specifically geared towards meeting new people and talking about yourself can feel contrived or just plain awkward.
But it’s time that we reclaim the concept of networking and shift the perception from “weird” to “organic.”
Start embracing networking in a new way…
Organic networking is about preparation. This may sound counterintuitive but stick with us! Like any activity (sports, academics, a new skill) practice makes perfect. This same concept can be applied to networking. Prepare by having professional/personal cards at the ready, wearing comfortable and appropriate clothing, and reviewing your own résumé before stepping into a professional environment.
Organic networking is about knowing yourself first. Don’t try to be a people-pleaser. You are who you are, and you have your own unique experiences. Rather than attempting to appeal to somebody else’s expectations of who you might be, speak confidently about what you are truly interested in and your personal experiences. From a technical point of view this tactic will help you speak more clearly and definitively, therefore making you sound, appear, and feel more confident.
Organic networking is about having a clear vision. How do you want to present yourself? What will you say when meeting someone new? Having a clear vision ahead of time about what you want to say about yourself is extremely helpful. You are essentially taking yourself off of the hot-seat and appearing calm, cool, and collected instead. If you don’t know exactly how to describe yourself, focus on two important details and go from there.
Organic networking is about enjoying the moment. In the midst of school and sports and extracurriculars and friends and family life can get pretty hectic! Think of networking as an opportunity to take time for yourself and meet new people who are interested in similar things.
Networking can happen anytime and anywhere. Therefore it is by nature an organic activity that you should be ready for rather than scared of. Networking is an awesome way to make new professional connections or even just to meet new people and be inspired by the interesting work they are doing!
How will you embrace organic networking?