We admit it: networking can be a little scary. You’d think most of the nerves would stem from the thought of introducing yourself to speakers or recruiters. However, many people have actually expressed anxiety about talking with other attendees.
The moment you walk into an event and are suddenly surrounded by your peers, you may have thoughts like: Do I just go up to someone? What am I supposed to say? What do I do with my hands?
The process can seem a bit daunting but, don’t sweat it. Networking with recruiters or speakers may be your main goal but getting to know other attendees is extremely beneficial, too.
To calm your networking nerves, here are a few tips to help you talk to other attendees at events:
You’re Not Alone
You aren’t the only one who is stressing, and knowing that is ironically a great way to de-stress. It’s always safe to assume that everyone is a little nervous.
Going somewhere where no one knows your name is daunting to even the most seasoned networker, so it’s always to helpful to remember that others are most likely feeling the same way and will be glad that you took an interest in them.
We know it sounds cheesy or like an opening to a bad greeting card, but making eye contact and smiling at other people is often the best ice-breaker. Like we said, other attendees may be nervous as well, and a friendly face could be all it takes to make you more approachable.
The best way to get over your fear and start a conversation is by asking questions. If you see someone standing alone or someone intriguing standing near by, open your introduction with a question. You can read more in-depth about insightful questions to open (and end) conversations with here.
Every Attendee is an Opportunity to Extend Your Network
Speakers and recruiters aren’t the only people at events who have something insightful to offer you. Just like you’d jump at the opportunity to talk to an employee at an institution you love, jump at the opportunity to meet each attendee, too.
You never know what sort of skill-set they have or passion project they’re working on that could align with your own interests. You should make a goal to leave an event having given your information to at least one new person. You never know, you could have just made a life-long friend or someone who could help you with your career (or both)!
Sincerity is key to cultivating a successful networking experience. You’d appreciate someone listening to your passions and experiences, so do the same for others. Put away your phone. Make eye contact. Listen.
It may seem to be obvious advice, but sometimes it could be tempting to try and be anyone else but yourself at a networking event. Don’t do that. Networking isn’t a competition. Though you’re all there to advance your careers in one way or another, don’t try to one up other attendees by trying to be something that you’re not. Be honest. Be kind. Being comfortable in your own skin is not only the best way to stand out but also the best way for others to feel comfortable in their own skin, too.
Do you have any insightful tips that help you get over your networking nerves? Share with us in the comments!