A recent LinkedIn survey revealed that 85% of all jobs are filled through networking.
But if we need networks of people to find employment, then why can it feel so exploitative sometimes?
The simple answer is it feels gross. We’re actively seeking relationships for career gain, not feelings of friendship. For many people, the very idea feels cringe-y.
So is there anything you can do to get through networking without feeling weird? Is it possible to make some genuine connections? The answer is yes, keep on reading to find out how.
What Are Some Things That Can Let Me Network Without Feeling Weird?
Nothing will fully make the grossness of networking go away. But there are some things you can do to relieve some of the awkwardness. Follow these tips and you’ll build some lasting business relationships (and maybe even some friendships too!).
What does it mean to know yourself?
It involves an honest evaluation of your strengths, weaknesses, and goals.
If you’re shy, then use it to your advantage. Be a good listener. Hone in on smaller crowds and individuals. Have clear and prepared answers for your long term career goals.
If you’re a talker, then think before you speak. You want to project confidence, but too much can quickly turn annoying. Regardless of your personality type, having a battle plan before your network will make the whole process easier.
Try and Be Genuine
When you network it’s easy for faces and names to blur into a giant confusing blob. Try and remember that there’s a person behind that face.
Practicing empathy goes a long way when you network. It helps you find conversation topics that click and tangible value that you can offer.
Ask questions outside of the career field. Discussing stories and passions can sometimes connect people more than strict business.
List Some Companies and Brands You Respect
Before networking familiarize yourself with the industry you’re looking into. Gather a list of some brands you can talk about.
Companies work hard at building a brand, and you can use the associations that people have with big names to your advantage. Brand knowledge shows you know what works and what doesn’t. It also helps clarify some of your future goals.
A lot of networking opportunities are lost because people don’t follow up. Don’t feel weird about asking for someone’s contact information.
Many professionals still use business cards. If they don’t have a business card, then ask for an email address or a name to look up on LinkedIn. Keeping in touch can lead to future opportunities and more connections.
Get Help If You Need It
For a lot of people, the grossness of networking goes beyond shyness or awkwardness.
If you experience intense fear in unfamiliar social situations, then you may have social anxiety disorder. People suffering from this disorder feel intense discomfort in situations where they feel evaluated.
It makes networking a nightmare for some people. But it’s possible to live your life without feeling gross during career talk. If you think you suffer from social anxiety disorder, then you can learn more about it here.