Does the word “schmoozing” automatically send you into a frenzy? If you tend to be shy around new people, which most of us are, the art of schmoozing can be quite the daunting task. Looking for a job, especially after college, requires some amount of “schmooziness” when it comes to networking. Many of us shudder at the thought of networking for many reasons – lack of confidence, fear of rejection, or even a sense of unworthiness. But, it is still possible for even the shyest person to master the skill of networking!
Consider arming yourself with these 12 common sense tips that will increase your networking mojo:
Start Small. You don’t have to start approaching people you don’t know right away. Start small with your friends and relatives. Then you can branch out to alumni from your University, eventually building up to professionals in your field.
Stop Apologizing. It is important to realize that reaching out to someone for networking purposes isn’t an imposition – it’s an exercise in relationship building. Apologizing could demonstrate a lack of knowledge and confidence. Plus, who knows? Perhaps one day you’ll be able to return the favor!
Tap into Your Primal Instincts. Did you know humans are innately social creatures? They are not shy by nature. Realizing this may help you emerge from a shell of shyness.
Be Yourself. Don’t feel like you have to act like an extrovert if you’re not. Actually, being too much of an extrovert can be more harmful than helpful as it portrays you’re only interested in yourself – not others. Being the authentic, humble, shy person you are can be endearing.
Tap into Your Passions. Join clubs and attend events related to something you enjoy. Ask the person who you’re chatting with about their work – there’s no reason not to if you’re having a nice conversation! The advantage of this is that it makes conversing that much easier. Being in places and situations where you feel comfortable helps you put your best foot forward.
Ask for Introductions. Sometimes at networking events, we can fall into the habit of settling in with one person. Even though this is comfortable, it is not ideal for networking. Why not ask your buddy if they know anyone else and can make introductions on your behalf? This can be a nice, soft way to meet others.
Be Generous. Even though networking works best when you have something to offer, it doesn’t have to be a job. A genuine interest in the other person and even some flattery goes a long way!
Follow Up. Sharing information builds your credibility. If you promised to send someone something, follow through. Make sure you label it with some personal branding so they remember who you are! Remember – when you do what you say you were going to do, it shows others that you keep your word.
Get Over Your Fear of Rejection. You will probably encounter people who can’t or won’t have interest in helping you. Don’t take it personally, that’s just the nature of networking!
Take Risks. After you get over your fear of rejection, it will be a million times easier to take risks and strike up conversations with strangers! The person sitting next to you may be feeling as uncomfortable as you are – and who knows? They could turn out to be an amazing contact for you!
Talk to a Mentor. If you’re finding it difficult to overcome your shyness on your own, seek some advice from someone you trust. This could help you talk through why it is that you’re so shy and could give you the perfect tools to change that.
Do you have any common-sense networking tips that have worked for you? Let us know in the comments below.