By nature, I am a shy person who doesn't naturally stand in the limelight. Networking is a skill that can be crafted and a big personality is not necessary. After countless mixers and coffee meetings, I've found it helps to have more curiosity and inner confidence than an eagerness that comes off as too obvious.
- Just knock: A mentor of mine commented on how during an internship, I was never at my desk. While I completed the tasks at hand, I was also working the halls to figure out whose steps I may want to follow. You can always do the ask and not take the absence of a reply personally. Make a mental reminder note to try again or if you happen to be visiting a friend's working space and see someone's door open, set up an appointment in person.
- Utilize social media: Don't just try to follow or add someone in hopes they'll notice you and return the favor. Sure, find some talking points in their feed and re-tweet, but the icing on the cake is sending a personalized note explaining why you admire them or their career. On LinkedIn, you're more likely to get accepted as a connection.
- Listen: It's so easy to want to talk about your experiences and sell yourself, especially if you're on the hunt for a job. But having a real conversation and making observations is invaluable and more genuine. See personality traits you may want to emulate or pull ideas from later. Let your hair down, bounce around ideas and be yourself.
- Show, don't tell: My dad is a gift-giver; it's engrained in his cultural upbringing and business savviness to share a small token of appreciation, especially on the holidays. Writing a thank you card is good practice and if it gets found under a pile of mail, helps you stand out or at least triggers a smile to associate with your name. By the way, panelists you may have listened to say some of the people who introduce themselves tend not to follow up. If you've got a business card, contact them!
- Expand your horizons: Get out of your comfort zone and join other circles, even if it means paying for membership. Dip your toe into a space filled with different jargon so you can fluidly flutter around various groups. After all, what do you gain by being the smartest person in the room?
You build your network now, you eventually build your net worth. Over a drink or in the elevator, the connections you make can last a lifetime and be kept in your back-pocket for when you need them most or when you least expect it.
Go get 'em, tiger!