I bet if you asked twenty people their top five hated activities, networking would be mentioned more than once. People hate networking. It feels awkward, scary and weird. But it doesn’t have to! Here are some tips to remember when networking!
- Make an elevator speech for yourself. We’ve all heard of the phrase elevator speech – the idea that you have 30 seconds to describe the organization you work for. Concoct a description of you and what you’re looking for in three sentences or less. Example: “I work doing fundraising and marketing for a nonprofit in San Diego, and my ultimate goal is to become a CEO of a nonprofit. I’m interested in learning more about nonprofit operations and all the facets that make them work.” Follow your elevator speech with the next bullet. Note: Even if you don’t have a job/aren’t working in the field you want, you can still make a self elevator speech! Lead with your passion and you’ll get what you’re hoping for.
- Balance what you want with what they want. As humans, we’re inherently selfish. What’s in it for me? is the first thing we ask ourselves in everything we do. Make your self elevator speech about what you can offer to the listener. If they represent a nonprofit you’d like to get to know, offer to visit their facility or make a donation. Demonstrating your value up front is the best way to make an impression.
- Listen. It sounds easy, but it can be harder than you think! Let go of all distractions when you’re networking and focus on what you’re saying and what the listener is saying. Respond to what she says. If she interjects with a shared experience, listen to it and respond. It takes two to tango – don’t make the conversation one sided.
- Show your interest. Make eye contact. Give a firm handshake. Smile. These things make a world of difference! When you outwardly express ease and interest, the listener will do the same. Have you heard of the phrase smile and the world smiles with you? It’s true!
These tips could translate to many situations – in an interview, when meeting your boyfriend’s parents, or even in any workplace conversation. If you respect the listener and that comes across in your interaction, you’ll have them hanging on your every word!