For those of you who fall into this category, you are, in fact, extremely fortunate that the internet and social networking groups make up such a large part of our lives today. Just think: ten years ago or so, communicating meant actually addressing another human being face to face, which meant that you were at risk of floundering around for words, or worse yet, having nothing to say!
Now, courtesy of the web, you can phrase things exactly as you wish them to appear, and if you don’t like how something sounds, you can just hit the backspace key and begin again! However, if you can muster the courage to do so, it really is a good idea to drag yourself to a networking event every so often.
What’s the mystery behind becoming a good networker? Well, first, you have to cultivate a genuine interest in others. In other words, the reason you find yourself asking the author you just met what it’s like to produce a novel, is not simply to engage in chit-chat, but instead, because you really WANT to know!
The good news is that even if you dislike talking about yourself, you can usually muster enough courage to ask someone else about her career or upbringing. Every one on the face of this planet has a story to tell and some interesting experiences to share. Your job as a successful networker is to get them to talk about it.
You might start the conversation by saying, “I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be a stockbroker. There must be a TON of things to learn.” A statement of this type will usually evoke an enthusiastic reaction from your partner who is anxious to share his ‘story’ with you.
The hard part comes, however, when you’ve finished listening to him, and it’s your turn. You’ll need to come up with a list of things that you can tell others about yourself. To wit: Since the 3rd grade, when I was given my first camera, I’ve always been interested in photographing people and places. I finally joined the staff of a travel magazine where I worked for 3 years, visiting exotic destinations.” This will undoubtedly segue into a comment from your conversation partner such as, ‘Oh really? Where exactly did you go?” or “How long were you there?”
If you prepare some of these lead-in statements in advance of attending an event, you can pick and choose from your list, based on the people you meet there.
Networking is all about engaging others in conversation. As difficult as it may be initially, you may find that being interested in others and revealing details in turn about yourself is actually enjoyable. Besides, you just never know when one of your conversations can help you land that next position!