Networking is a key strategy for building your pool of potential new job candidates. But, of course, it’s a challenge for many hiring managers and recruiters, especially if you are an introvert.
Here are a few tips to help increase your networking comfort levels—whether you’re new and nervous or still loathe networking a decade into your career.
- Recognize your bravery: There’s something to be said for simply showing up—for putting your career and your profession ahead of your discomfort. This puts you in a very small group of high performers. You’re already ahead of the curve.
- Know you’re not alone: When you’re at the event, understand probably a quarter (give or take) of the room is probably feeling the same level of trepidation as you are. So go in, look around, and see if there is anyone else standing or sitting alone and looking a bit uncomfortable. Walk over, say hello, introduce yourself, and find a connection point.
- Be curious: Curiosity is the best thing for small talk, so just ask questions. “Oh, you work for XYZ Cabinets? How long have you worked there? What does your role there entail?” Come up with three to five questions you can always rely on to ask. Many people will ask you those questions in return; before you know it, you’re having a conversation and everything starts feeling a little easier.
- Remember it’s OK to remove yourself: If your conversation companion is a dud, excuse yourself to the restroom and then start over with someone new when you return to the room.
If you’re super nervous, perhaps one or two conversations like this are your limit for your first event—and that’s OK. After a few events leveraging these strategies, you should start to feel more comfortable, and you’ll likely be ready to level up.