Networking: for some, networking is an exciting and social way to build their business and create new opportunities. For others, it invokes incredible fear; fear of being forced to talk to people you don’t know, fear of saying something dumb, fear of awkward silence – the list goes on. Luckily, summer is a great time to incorporate networking into fun activities in low-risk settings, making it a pleasant experience no matter which side you fall on! Below are some of our favorite Treehouse Tips to mix networking and pleasure:
– Consider networking part of your lifestyle: When you incorporate networking into your day-to-day life, it will be worked into your DNA and you won’t feel anxiety at the thought of it anymore. Summer is a great time for this since people are out and about. Any event can become a great networking opportunity: baseball games, BBQ’s, days at the pool!
– Ask a lot of questions: Remember what your mother told you when you were growing up: you have 2 years and 1 mouth for a reason… you should do more listening than talking! Ask others at the event about their story and what drives them – it will likely get at some really interesting and helpful information, but it will also take the pressure off you a bit, so you can actively listen to what the other party is saying instead of thinking about what you’re going to say next.
– Be proud of who you are: Think of networking as a chance to tell your story. It gives you an opportunity to be open and honest about who you are, where you came from, and how you decided on your career. We all made choices to get where we are today, and having an opportunity to share your success with others can be very rewarding!
– Look for common ground: If you know you are going to a networking event, it is always smart to do some research ahead of time on who will be there. This way, you can instantly connect with anybody by finding some common ground. This also goes for events in your personal life that might end up being networking opportunities. If you are at the same event you most likely already share something in common. Start there and you’ll likely connect on a number of things.
– Choose fun events: Just because others in your office only network at the standard after-work cocktail events (nametags included) doesn’t mean you have to do the same! In cities like Los Angeles, networking has expanded into a variety of exciting activities. Choose the events you find interesting and turn networking into a fun activity. Check out Eventbrite or meetup.com for some interesting and out-of-the-box networking events in Los Angeles: http://www.eventbrite.com/directory/California/Los+Angeles/meetings/
– Bring a wingman: Even though the point of networking is to meet new people, you can still bring a friend along to help with this cause. You will feel more comfortable approaching people if you have somebody you know by your side. Plus, it will make it feel more like a fun (but productive!) summer night out.
– Grab a drink: Don’t overdo it on the libations, but heading to the bar first is actually a great idea. It gives you somebody to talk to immediately: the bartender. Plus, you can chat with people around you while you are waiting for the drink and something to hold onto while you are walking around the room.