Networking can be an intimidating word for industry professionals. There is usually a mix of emotion that surrounds the idea because although networking events are fun and exciting, they’re also crowded and overwhelming. Once you get past the idea that small talk isn’t valuable, you realize it’s not difficult to make meaningful and substantial relationships with other professionals. There are many reasons your boss tells you to network–here are 5 of them.
You perfect your social skills.
They always say “practice makes perfect” and it definitely takes practice to master any social situation. The more you put yourself out there, in what may seem like an uncomfortable and awkward situation, the better you’ll become at handling them as you move forward. Asking questions and understanding body language are both important aspects of engaging in conversation, but, they are also learned skills.
You get rejected.
Everyone’s biggest fear is rejection, whether it’s in a romantic relationship or a professional one. There WILL be times when you’ll go to an event or a lunch meeting and not end up bringing in a new client. Maybe the person you’re talking to isn’t as interested in learning about you and what you do, so don’t push. It’s okay to not get everyone’s business card, and the sooner you learn that, the better. Being overly pushy or altogether “too much” isn’t a good look in any environment, let alone a professional one. Accept rejection gracefully, shake their hand, and move on.
Elevator pitches still exist.
Honestly, networking events are full of elevator pitches and it’s really important to have yours tightly knit. Depending on the event, your role in the company, and your objective for attending, practice a specific version of your pitch beforehand. Make it short and sweet so you can get the point across. Every conversation doesn’t need to begin with, “Hi, I’m _____ and I work at ______. My company can help you ______.” If the conversation gets there, it gets there, but you should be prepared for when it does.
You grow your circle.
This one is self-explanatory. As professionals, specifically in the media industry, it’s crucial to have a “little black book” of contacts. Whether you see potential in working with them right away or later on, build and nourish relationships with a wide range of individuals. Expanding your circle is so important because like they say, “it’s all about who you know.”
It raises your credibility.
As a reflection of your growing contact list, you’ll be added to the lists of others. The more people that remember where you work, the clients you have, or the funny joke you told over a happy hour drink, the more that will reach out later on. These are the people who will raise your credibility. They will tell friends or coworkers about you with a beaming endorsement, therefore your circle grows and your positive reviews increase.
Next time you get an email invite to a networking event, don’t hold your breath. Let go of the fear that you’ll be an awkward wallflower, and relax. Stop pressuring yourself into measuring the success of the night and start small. Make it a goal to meet one new person and get their business card. The more you do it, the easier it’ll become. Networking is a great skill to hone and you’ll be thankful you didn’t shy away from it.
—By Alyx Sealy, Assistant Account Executive