August 15, 2014

Networking 101

I have always been a bit of a social butterfly. My mother says that growing up I never met a stranger  because I was always chatting up whomever was around me; a trait that only grew with time. And even though I was often referred to as talkative in school, I've found this social skill of mine to be a great asset here in the "real world". It's helped me become a better networker.

Now, I understand this concept of networking can seem a bit daunting to some of you. But when you really get down to it, networking is simply the act of developing authentic relationships and connections with people. You probably do that every day girlfriend!

But just in case you're still feeling uneasy, I've put together a list of strategies that have helped me over the years....

1. Be genuine. In a recent interview on Cupcakes and Cashmere (one of my favorite blogs), I read that "networking, at it's core, is selfish", which is very true when you stop and think about it. Because of that fact, you can easily appear inauthentic if you jump the gun when first meeting someone. So relax. Take your time getting to know the person instead of coming from a place of "what can you do for me". Not only will this attitude take the pressure off you, but you might actually make a friend in the process.

2. Use your resources. Thanks to social media and other online platforms, we now have access to some pretty amazing people. So what are you waiting for. Reach out to them; see if they'd be interested in meeting for coffee! It may no sound like much, but this tip has help land me some pretty cool opportunities. So don't be afraid to give it a try. You never know what could come of a simple tweet or email.

Some of my favorite platforms for networking include Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.

3. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Undoubtably one of the best tools for networking is asking questions. It's also a great way to start a conversation in case you ever find yourself stuck. After all, people love sharing their stories and you can learn so much by taking the time to listen. 

4. Be patient with yourself. Whether you've been blessed with the gift of gab or tend to be a little on the shy side, networking takes time to master. For everyone. Even I still have a lot to learn in that department. So in every encounter remember to be patient with yourself. It'll get easier the more you practice.

I hope you find these tips on networking helpful! 


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