Networking and blind dates are quite similar. This is especially true regarding the fear of rejection.
Blind dates can be uncomfortable, they often feel forced, and everyone is trying to sell something (themselves). Networking events… are the same.
I am going to help you overcome all of those crappy feelings and show you how to fall in L.O.V.E. with networking.
When you meet someone for the first time one of the following thoughts usually goes through your head:
- Can I trust this person?
- Are they legit?
- What does this person really want?
- Is this person going to screw me over?
The four thoughts above are all negative and not helpful at all. I decided to create the acronym: L.O.V.E. to help you overcome those thoughts in your head. Let’s get started!
Leisurely: Take It Slow
Before I started networking, I thought it involved attending several events a week and collecting hundreds of business cards.
That mindset made attending networking events and meeting new people extremely overwhelming. It wasn’t until my mentor convinced me to attend one event and see what happened. It was the best networking advice I have received.
I am going to give you the same networking advice. Just start by attending one networking event and meet just one person who you will follow up with. Attending the first event is always the hardest. I promise it gets easier.
Most people would rather dream of attending three events a week than actually attending one single event. Don’t fall into that trap!
Opportunities: Find Networking Events You’re Passionate About
Attend events that focus on topics you enjoy and are passionate about. When you are familiar with the subject, it’s much easier to strike up a conversation.
Jot down three things that you are passionate about. If you are having trouble figuring out what you are passionate about, think about the types of books/blogs you read and what you like to do in your spare time.
Then head over to one of the websites below to find an event that is focused on your passion.
- Or Google “[Your City] Networking Events” to find website that lists local events that you might be interest in attending.
The secret to enjoying networking is to find the types of events that interest you.
For example, the majority of the networking events I attend are about entrepreneurship, social media, and marketing. When you’re building a network you want to look for people who have similar interests and goals.
Once you find the right events to attend, it won’t feel like networking.
View It As an Experiment
Over the years I have been to some terrible networking events. I didn’t meet anyone interesting, I couldn’t relate to the people who attended, and it felt like I just wasted my time.
There is a good chance that it’s going to happen to you. Just view it as an experiment and laugh about it. When you go to your next networking event, you can share funny stories about how bad the previous event was.
It’s similar to going on a bad date. It’s something you laugh about with your friends. If you are really having a horrible time after an hour, just leave. There is nothing that states that you have to stay the whole time.
Trust me, it’s a lot easier to just leave a networking event compared to a blind date!
Expectations: Keep Them Low
When was the last time you went on a date and expected that person to be the man or woman of your dreams? Sounds pretty ridiculous right?
A lot of people decide to go to networking events because they want to do one of three things:
- Sell a product or service,
- Meet someone who can offer them a job, or
- Find people to invest in their new company
All of the above opportunities are possible, but not from going to one single networking event. These things happen after you build a relationship over time. You have to Follow up with them and then Keep in touch. You have to show them what you can do for them before they help you.
When was the last time you had a one-night stand that resulted in a successful relationship or something great?
Now it’s time for you to share the love…
Which letter resonated with you the most? Please leave a comment below. I promise I will read every one of them!
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Start Networking Today!
About the Author: John Muscarello is the founder of Start Networking Today, a website that teaches recent graduates and young professionals how to network and advance their career. John breaks down networking and career advancement techniques he has used into simple actionable steps to help young professionals achieve career success. Connect with John on Twitter!