How To Actually Enjoy Networking
Do you hate networking? Do you dread attempting to get dressed in something "professional" just to cling to your wine glass all evening and then go back home feeling drained and like you wasted a $35 ticket?
We hear ya. Seriously. Been there. But when we started doing the following 4 things, our lives became more enjoyable, our connections became friends and our business flourished. So here they are, just for you guys. Our top tips for networking and enjoying it!
1. THROW ALL YOUR IDEAS OF NETWORKING OUT OF THE WINDOW
Ok so tip number one is simple. Stop thinking about networking in the traditional sense. Just stop it, right now! Easy right!?
2. MAKE FRIENDS, NOT CONNECTIONS
So with #1 done, think about what you're doing when you're 'networking'. You're making connections right? But what are connections? You met someone you got along with, had a few things to talk about and generally found some common ground. So basically you made a new friend... a business friend.
Next time you head to an event, take out the pressure of them being a 'connection' and go with the idea of just meeting nice people and having a chat with them. You might swap Instagram handles, phone numbers, or even business cards, but at the end of the day you should have felt less pressure, had a more genuine conversation and hopefully enjoyed yourself too!
3. FIND EVENTS YOU ACTUALLY WANT TO ATTEND
So often there are events promoted for 'business professionals' with the sole purpose of networking. Professionals turn up in suits with the goal of meeting, impressing and swapping business cards with each other. Does this sound like a fun event? NOPE.
Instead, we recommend only attending events you actually want to go to! Keep an eye on speaker events, panels, conferences, art shows, local classes, anything that catches your eye and would make you want to attend even if growing your network wasn't a goal. If there's a cool event happening with speakers you're not interested in, don't go! Radical? Maybe. More efficient in the long run? 100%!!
4. LIMIT THE NUMBER OF EVENTS YOU ATTEND
Social events of any kind can be draining. You're putting your best face forward, and have to focus, listen and be engaging. This is as true of family dinners as it is of business events. So don't beat yourself up for this. Choose a select number of events you want to attend each month (helpful for your budget too!) and do no more than that. If you think one every 2 weeks sounds good, go for it! Be proactive in finding events you REALLY want to go to, and then only go to those - there's no guilt this way, just excitement to do all the good stuff!