Human beings are social creatures who thrive on connecting and relating to other people. For some people, connecting with others is easy. They have no problem going to new places, trying new experiences, and meeting new faces along the way. Others aren't so comfortable with meeting new people and may have a harder time getting out of their comfort zone to meet others. If you are in the latter group, we have some helpful tips and tricks to help you meet new people.
The first step to networking success is to find a networking group that interests you. Most major cities have at least several networking group meetups every month, and you can find upcoming events on websites like Eventbrite or Eventful. If this will be your first networking event, you might want to ask a close friend or co-worker if they can recommend an event. Asking for event recommendation is a good way to gauge which events are worth your time and which ones are not.
SEE MORE: 5 Secrets to Surviving the Competitive Nature of Job Fairs
Go with a friend.
If you can, try to go to a networking event with a close pal who will give you support. Not only will attending the event with a friend give you a healthy boost of confidence, you both can encourage each other to get out of comfort zones and introduce yourselves to more people. Try to set goals where you meet at least 3 people every 30 minutes or 6 people every hour.
Relax and go in with a positive attitude.
When trying new things it's easy to clam up with fear and let your assumptions get the best of you. You need to relax a little, let go of your fears, and keep a sunny outlook during your adventure. Try not to take things to seriously and do make the time to smile every now and then. You want to appear approachable so people will feel at ease when they first meet you.
SEE MORE: 5 Ways to Be the Star of a Group Interview
Mind your body language.
As we mentioned above, it's important to appear approachable during the event. Keep your body language in mind, and don't slouch or keep your arms crossed. Don't be afraid to make eye contact with others. Try not to fiddle with your hands or avert interest to your phone because people will assume you're not interested in interaction. If you must, hold a pamphlet in your hands to keep yoursef from being distracted for fidgeting.
Contrary to popular belief, networking is less about selling yourself and more about building relationships. Knowing this should ease some fears you may have about networking with strangers. The key is to meet new people, to build connections, and to listen more than talk. You need to build a bond of trust before you can start reaping the rewards.
SEE MORE: 10 Websites That Will Help You Find the Perfect Job
Don't lose confidence.
Once you started meeting people and have built up a key connection during the event, don't end it without a planning a follow-up. Do more than exchange phone numbers or email addresses, try to aim for a future lunch meeting or casual get-together. Don't let an opportunity pass you buy without making some sort of effort to keep the connection because that is the whole purpose of networking.
Consider joining an association.
Networking doesn't stop at one-time or ocassional networking events. Look for a non-profit organization or association to join for extra connections. Ideally, you should seek out groups that you have something in common with. There are professional societies, trade associations, labor unions, cultural organizations, and more. If you already know someone who is a member of a group you would like to be a member of, ask them where they can get to know more information about it. You could also go to your local library and find a copy of The Encyclopedia of Associations to learn more about all the organizations and how to contact them.
SEE MORE: 10 Tips to Make Your Interview Successful
Connect with people online.
If you haven't done so already, sign up for a free LinkedIn account, find former bosses and colleagues, send invites to connect. LinkedIn is the only online social network that specializes in professional connections, so it's a great resource for connecting. Some people also find success networking on Facebook or Twitter. If you want to use Facebook to connect on a professional level, be sure to join some of the professional groups for an added advantage.
Check out our secrets and tips to making LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter work better for you.