On the Shy Side? Five Tips on How to Network Naturally
by Meray Ayoub
3rd-Year Student in Finance
“Pulling a good network together takes effort, sincerity and time” – Alan Collins
Today, we cannot ignore the importance of networking when it comes to job hunting. The more you put into it, the more you will get from it. Your level of dedication to networking will determine the strength of your connections. That does not mean that you should not be authentic or natural. In fact, the more genuine you are, the more meaningful your connections will be. Here are 5 tips on how network naturally.
Set a goal
When you can’t see the tangible results of your work, it’s easy to get discouraged. So, start by setting a goal for each event. It can be something as simple as meeting four new people. This will allow you to fully engage in each conversation and distract you from feeling anxious. It will also give you something to celebrate and measure your growth upon.
Start with people you know
It can be very intimidating to walk up to someone you don’t know. Start with familiar faces. This will boost your confidence and make the conversation feel more natural. Why not bring a networking buddy: together, you can build each other’s credibility and give each other you a warm introduction, like a live testimony about you, which naturally puts you in a great light. That way, you won’t feel as pressured to make the next move or to ask questions.
Prepare questions or ice breaker topics
This will help you make a long-lasting impression. Try to come up with genuine questions that are likely to interest your new contacts. For example, if you are a sport enthusiast, you can talk about a sports team the company sponsors. This approach will lead to a more natural dialogue. Thoughtful questions allow you to build trust and rapport, which supports your personal connection and expands your potential opportunities.
Smile and use positive body language
About 93 percent of our communication is non-verbal. Therefore, maintaining a positive body language can send a powerful message. When we are extremely focused and/or a little bit anxious, it’s easy to forget a friendly gesture: smiling. There is nothing more natural and welcoming than a smile. Smiling makes it easier for people to connect with you because you seem more open; it also helps them remember you.
Listen to and leverage follow‑up questions
The key to any successful connection is active listening. Many students get so caught up thinking what the next question should be that they become too distracted to listen to what is being said. If you are attentive to what the other person is saying, you can leverage follow-up questions. This shows the other person that you are keenly interested, which creates a memorable impression and a deeper connection.