But I Don’t Know How to Network with People!

March 18, 2013 by
Filed under: Networking 

networking4

At a recent event, someone I hadn’t met before came up to me and asked me for advice on how to network. I was flattered that the person asked me and puzzled at the same time. I asked him why he wanted my advice.  He told me that he was observing me and noticed how easy it seemed for me to meet people and start a conversation with them. He also mentioned that I looked calm, relaxed and sincerely interested in the person I was speaking with. That last comment caught my attention and is something I hear a lot.

Have you ever had a conversation with someone who you could tell was not interested in what you did or what you were saying? They might of even come up to you, introduced themselves to you first, and started the conversation.

Unfortunately, I’ve experienced that very scenario far too often. The person who asked me the networking advice apparently didn’t understand that in order to best network with others, one must sincerely be interested in the person they’re networking with. It’s been my experience that people for the most part can tell when someone is not really interested in them.

My first thought after his comment was “Of course I’m interested in the person I’m speaking with!” and I wanted to say that but I didn’t. What I did do was ask him why he wanted to get advice on how to network. He told me he wanted to get to know people and have people get to know him, but he felt uncomfortable going up to someone and introducing himself. I told him that’s a fair feeling to have if you’re not use to networking. The way to help get over that feeling is to simply start doing it. Going up to people and introducing yourself, but remember a few important points:

  1. Be Yourself – First and foremost. Don’t try to be something you don’t truly believe you are. I’ve always liked being informal and in most networking scenarios, being informal is the way to go. Remember that people who you want to network with, and eventually surround yourself with, will want to know the real you. People who like you and will want to do business with you because of who you are. One thing I see that really helps a lot of people in networking, including myself, is choosing to have an outgoing and friendly attitude. People don’t always remember what you say, but they will most likely remember how you make them feel.
  2. Breathe – Take a slow deep breath and slow exhale.  More than once if you want. It will help you relax before you join a conversation or start a conversation with people you don’t know.
  3. Know Your Audience / Know Where You Are – The reason I say this is that there are many different types of environments where you can network with others. Are you networking at a conference, at a party with neighbors, at a function for work? Many environments are formal, while others are very informal. An example of a formal environment may be at a business gala during the reception portion of the event, while an informal environment may be a sporting event. You don’t want to network at a party with neighbors the same way you would network at a conference representing your company or service.
  4. Look People in the Eye – When speaking with someone, remember that looking them in the eye when they are speaking to you, as well as when you are speaking to them, is considered polite. Not looking someone in the eye when they are speaking to you makes it look as though you’re not really interested in them. At the same time, not looking someone in the eyes when you are speaking to them makes it appear as though you are not being sincere. Quick Note: It’s OK to periodically take a quick glance away from the person because you don’t want to appear as though you’re simply staring at them either. 🙂
  5. Avoid Getting Tongue-Tied by Preparing a Self-Introduction – Having a self-introduction prepared that is clear, interesting, and well delivered is a very helpful tool to have in your possession when starting a conversation with someone you don’t know. How does one do that? The simplest way is to write it down. Prepare what you are going to say to someone when introducing yourself and then practice, practice, practice. The more you practice, the more it will sound natural and unscripted. What you write down will depend upon the nature of the event you’re preparing for. Regardless of what you write down or the type of event it is for, what you say about yourself shouldn’t take any longer than 8 to 10 seconds.
  6. It’s OK to Ask Questions – When you are talking with a person you’ve met at a reception or some other kind of networking opportunity, you can ask questions to help keep the conversation going. In my networking experience, I’ve found that I sincerely enjoy learning about other people (and many people sincerely enjoy talking about themselves). When I meet someone I pay attention to what they say in order to learn something about them. For example, if a person works for a particular company, a question I always ask is, “How long have you worked with XYZ Corporation?” (Instead of XYZ Corporation, use the company they’re associated with.) Many times the next question I ask after that is, “How do you like working for them?” At that point I’ve started the conversation going with the person and most of the time, they are more than happy to speak about their experiences. You can ask any question you feel is appropriate for the situation (about them or something else).
  7. Worried About Rejection? Don’t Be – It happens to everyone. Anyone who says they’ve never been rejected is only admitting that they’ve not tried it much if at all! There will be people who don’t respond to your introduction the way you would like. If you find yourself in that situation, don’t take it personally. Just move on. Creating and maintaining an outgoing, friendly attitude no matter how someone reacts to you will always make things easier. It also helps to have a sense of humor.
  8. Make It a Choice to Have Fun! – As I mentioned earlier, keeping a healthy sense of humor is a key ingredient to networking. Another one is simply to relax. At many networking events, I’ve run into people who are so serious about networking. They treat networking as though it is a necessary evil that must be done in order to succeed in life. Sometimes an individual can be so serious that they alienate the very people they are attempting to network with. Unfortunately, I’ve seen that happen far too often.

Remember a cardinal rule about networking:

The goal of networking is to establish a lasting working relationship with someone else.

If you find yourself nervous in networking scenarios, understand you’re not the only one. Everyone has different levels of experience and expertise when it comes to networking and no one is born being good at networking. The great thing is that everyone gets better at networking the more they do it. The more you practice networking, the more you just may be surprised at how much easier it gets!

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Comments

19 Intelligent Opinions, Leave Yours on But I Don’t Know How to Network with People!

  1. City Sylvester on Mon, 19th Oct 2009 3:52 am
  2. Gilpizano, great post. That tongue tied thing happens to me mostly when I talk to beautiful women, at these events. I like the site. Oh yea I’ve been having a great time spinning your amazon book case.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  3. Deb Lamb on Thu, 22nd Oct 2009 6:53 am
  4. Great post!

    I’m always surprised when I hear that there are people out there that don’t know how to network or intermingle with others. This is something that comes SO natural to me that I really have never thought about it.

    I’m the type of person that never meets a stranger and can strike up a conversation with a tree! So it never really occurred to me that people struggle in this area. Wow!

    Your post certainly gave me some insight and things to think about and consider when I try to help others. I’ll have to check in my virtual assistant forums and see if there might be a need in this area.

    Thanks so much for sparking some thought on my end. Really enjoyed your post. Make it a fabulous day!

    Deb 🙂
    .-= Deb Lamb´s last blog ..5 Tips to Make Your Blogging Fun, Efficient and Fast! =-.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  5. Sam Diener on Mon, 2nd Nov 2009 6:10 pm
  6. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  7. Gil Pizano on Tue, 3rd Nov 2009 7:19 pm
  8. Thanks Sam for the advice! Always much appreciated.

    Take Care,

    -Gil

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    […] of navigating the job search. A great suggestion for these students? Talk to everybody, show sincere interest in them as people, and let them know what your goals […]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  9. RonnyG on Mon, 30th Nov 2009 11:03 am
  10. Thanks for advices. Great and very useful post. Thanks for this information. I have read lots of this ideas, but your are the first who have wrote everything in one post.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  11. Rachel Solisandro on Mon, 30th Nov 2009 11:19 am
  12. This is some great advice. I appreciate it you placing this post!!

    Thanks

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  13. TaniaSun on Wed, 2nd Dec 2009 7:58 pm
  14. Dear Gil!

    All above stuff in your post is the truth. We can communicate on this theme.

    Thank you,

    Tania

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  15. William Hurtzman on Wed, 1st Sep 2010 9:09 am
  16. Terrific stuff! This is the type of information that ought to be shared more often. Shame on the search engines for not positioning this post higher!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  17. Tom K. on Wed, 1st Sep 2010 11:35 am
  18. While this topic could be very touchy for most individuals, my opinion is always that there has to become a middle or common ground that we all can identify. Thank you!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  19. Gil on Sun, 31st Mar 2013 9:15 pm
  20. I’ve been being asked recently about networking quite a bit which led me to want to point out this blog post I did a few years back. From what many have told me, it helped them look at networking in a different and so I wanted to republish it here for many of my readers. Never stop networking!! Networking is really nothing more than meeting new people and sincerely finding out who they are and what they are about! This is regardless of what they can or cannot do for you!….Cheers!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  21. Quynhlan on Tue, 28th May 2013 3:17 am
  22. Great article!
    Your advices is very useful. I think ” look people in eyes” is very important. It catch the truth of audience. Moreover, it makes your speed is more persuadable. Thank you a lot for this post.
    Quynhlan recently posted..[OpenCart Module] Kuler Control Panel: An In-depth LookMy Profile

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  23. Gil Pizano on Tue, 28th May 2013 8:07 pm
  24. Thanks Quynhlan! Yes, you make a very good point! Looking at a person’s eyes when speaking and when being spoken to is very important. Thanks for pointing this out!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  25. Sebastian from Good Morning Quotes on Sun, 27th Oct 2013 7:33 pm
  26. I’ve dealt with social anxiety for a very long time and the cure was to start being myself. I was trying to be like other people.

    It turns out that I’m a very weird guy but people like it apparently. They think I’m interesting.
    Sebastian recently posted..That’s Unrealistic… Fuck OffMy Profile

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

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  28. That’s a great piece of information.information. Thanks for sharing

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