Getting to work with students, young people and new entrepreneurs who are just starting out on their journey’s is amazing! Seeing the terror in their eyes at a networking event however, is not.
I started networking whilst still studying and it turned out to be the best thing that happened to be professionally, yet it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows.
Networking can be tough, especially when you’re first starting out! So I wanted to share my top tips / thoughts on the things I’ve learnt in the last thirteen years, and what I wish I new when I was starting out in the crazy, wonderful world of networking.
1. You have so much to offer.
When you’re young, still studying or just starting out on your new venture it’s really easy to feel like you have nothing to offer the people you meet. But that’s completely not the case! If you have an opinion, you have something to offer. If you can ask questions and genuinely listen to the answers, you have something to offer. And if you want to learn from the people you meet in the hope of becoming better, then you have something to offer.
Everyone has to start somewhere, and the people you meet were once where you are now – listen to them and learn from them, you’ll be able to give back in no time.
2. You won’t like everyone.
And they won’t like you! It’s inevitable! You’re not going to be best friends with everyone you meet at a networking event, and not everyone is going to like you either: and that’s okay. As long as your respectful and not rude to people there’s nothing to worry about. You don’t have to do business with them (and visa versa), you don’t have to spend a lot of time with them, but you definitely don’t have to speak badly of them either.
3. Being kind goes a long way.
Treating people with kindness is so important in business, and of course just generally in life! Networking means meeting a lot of people, people who have a lot going on in their own lives. Being kind to others not only means your just a decent human being, it also shows you to be someone that others want to know and hopefully to do business with. If you go around being a tool, lets be honest, no one is going to want to know you. Simple as that. The old ‘treat everyone the same, from janitor to CEO’ saying is something everyone should live by, especially in networking. You never know where people will be in a year or three.
4. Job titles are meaningless.
‘Oooh you’re a CEO or a CTO or a MDFPTTO?! You must be super important and scary and intimidating then?!’
Not at all. People are just people – we all put our socks on one at a time in the morning (if you’ve found a way to do two at once please share with the rest of the group). Having a fancy sounding job title shouldn’t be intimidating, especially when you’re networking. Don’t be afraid to speak to them, they’re there to network just like you, and remember point 1!
p.s. if you have a fancy sounding job title don’t get carried away, and remember point 3.
5. You don’t have to have it just because it’s free.
Took me a few years to get this one but it’s true – just because the bacon sarnies or the cake or especially the wine, is free, it doesn’t mean you have to have it. Just trust me on this one.
To learn even MORE about networking, take a look at our online courses where you can learn how to network from the comfort of your own home: HERE
Or to say ‘Hello’ and have a chat about your networking needs, drop me a line on: firstname.lastname@example.org