“It is not what you know, but who you know”.
Although I do not 100% agree with this statement, as I believe hard work can never be underestimated, I do believe that the people you know are very important.
Therefore, ‘networking’, which has always made those butterflies in my stomach partake in gymnastics training, is important. I am not particularly introverted and I do enjoy meeting new people, but I find introducing myself to people, particularly important people, completely nerve racking. The conference I attended last weeks was my first real taste of networking, and although I am by no means an expert, I wanted to share my experience and beginners tips.
Tip 1: Smile- This probably seems extremely obvious, but for a person who has been told, on few occasions, that I have the case of RBF (resting bitch face), the importance of smiling cannot be underestimated. I do not mean a cheesy cheshire cat grin, just a nice friendly smile to encourage people to introduce themselves to you.
Tip 2: Wear unique clothes– This may not be everyone’s forte but I like to wear noticeable clothing. I am not talking about a shark suit (although I wouldn’t put it past me), but I wore my top with deers on the first day which got a few compliments, my bright green floral pants the next day, and my shark jumper the last day. I believe if you wear unique clothes you will be more memorable.
Tip 3: Listen to people’s names- This is something I need to do much, much better. I have this habit of meeting new people and being so nervous about shaking their hand so hard that I will rip it off that I do not listen to their name. This is a problem for me as I understand the value of addressing people by their name. One of the speakers at the conference asked people their name throughout his presentation and at the end then used them as examples by calling them by their name again, which was very effective.
Tip 4: Bite the bullet- Somethings you just have to take a deep breath, bite the bullet and talk to the important person that you want to. I consider what I will say over and over again in my head and make myself 100 times more nervous. So in the end I just do not think about it and go and say hello.
Tip 5: Create a cheat sheet- “little black book”… this may sound very, very creepy but I have created a word document with important people’s names and affiliation in it. As I said I am not great with names so this is a way for me to remember people. If you want to step up the creepiness even more you could google their name and find a photo of them…