As the Fellowship is nearing the end, it has become more real to me how important my present and future connections with people are. From day one, Challenge Detroit has opened doors to many opportunities allowing us fellows to meet very prominent individuals within the Detroit community. I have been encouraged to reach beyond my comfort zone and meet any and every one I can. I have grown to see the value it making connections—making friends. If you are anything like me, serious networking can feel awkward and somewhat embarrassing. If so, there three things that I’ve learned this past year about developing into a great networker. I hope this will help!
Pretend to be confident.
I once read somewhere that the best way to overcome the fear of meeting new people is to pretend to be someone else who is more confident. The idea is simple really, but it hit me hard. All I have to do is act as though I am a confident woman until I’ve conditioned myself to be one. The journey is so worthwhile.
Always have business cards.
You never know what could happen when at a networking event. There could be too many attendees, a shortage of time, or even bad acoustics. Whichever it may be, it is always nice to leave each conversation ending with your business card. This is the lasting impression, and it gives them a way to follow-up. Also, It’s always great to receive a business card from a potential mentor, boss, or colleague. But it is even better when you can remember who they are. Try writing a description of the person on the back of the business card, so you will never forget them in the future.
Start small and build your way up.
Networking events can be pretty overwhelming. This is why I recommend starting at smaller gatherings, such as mixers, if possible. Work your way up to larger engagements, so that your confidence builds as you go. It’s all a learning experience that you will be proud of when you look back.
I hope these three quick tips will help you maximize your networking experience. Just always remember that the people you meet are humans too.