Recently I have been attending a number of networking events, like the upcoming BridgeATX event on Thursday evening (tickets still available!).
As a normally shy person (or perhaps I should say “abnormally” shy), networking has been very difficult for me to get into, and is one of the areas that, over the years, I have been very lax about making happen, something I believe is one of the primary things that has been detrimental to my career.
There are two difficulties I have noticed about networking events.
First, it can be hard, walking into an event, to get started in conversation with other people, particularly if they are already involved in a conversation with someone else. This is particularly difficult for someone who is shy.
Second, once you do manage to get into conversation with someone, eventually, the conversation does have to come to an end, and then you are once again on the outside of everyone else’s conversations, looking awkwardly in and trying to find some way back into conversation.
There is actually a single solution to both problems.
Last week, at the LPJC meeting, the speaker was Angela Loeb. In her presentation about successful networking, she talked about (among other things) the “Host vs Guest Mentality”. Success in networking, in her view (and mine), is thinking more about what you can do for others, not about what others can do for you.
With this in mind, the solution becomes self-evident. While you are involved in conversation, keep an eye out for people looking to join a conversation, and then invite them in! A fresh flow of new and interesting people can help keep the conversation flowing indefinitely, preventing you from ending up on the outside looking in. As an added bonus, you can introduce those in your circle to the newcomer, reinforcing your memory of names, fields and interesting characteristics.
Invite someone into an ongoing conversation today, and ask them about themselves to keep the ball rolling.
Jim Adcock makes a living as a SharePoint Administrator, and makes a difference as Vice President of Launch Pad Job Club, an organization in Austin, Texas, whose mission is help people who have lost their jobs to get the skills they need to land their next job, and to help them cope with the interim between jobs. Check out his career-related posts or check out some of the other content on the site.