Entering a room of complete strangers can be overwhelming. Particularly when you have the goal of making these strangers part of your network. However, the fact is, networking is an essential part of job hunting – studies indicate that between 85%-96% of all positions are filled because of networking. So, although you may not like networking, at some point in your career you’ll have to do it.
Networking is not asking for a job. No one has ever been offered a job at networking events. That is not the point of networking. The goal of networking is the build your connections – get to know people in your field. People are more willing to talk about their industry than job openings. Not only will you learn more about the industry but you will also come across as someone who is engaged and interested in the field.
The short answer is, network in anyway that suits you best. The important thing is to build a meaningful relationship with the people you would like in your network. This means it’s more than swapping business cards. To build these meaningful relationships you should be genuine and clear about what you want. Being genuine means not looking at every conversation or interaction as a transaction. Rather each interaction should be viewed as a chance to build a connection.
Like all skills, the more you network the more you will improve. Also, don’t be afraid to reach out to your career team or business clubs for further advice. Happy networking!