Networking is Scary. Discover the Top 10 Tricks to make it a Treat!

We’re stoked to announce that on November 14th we’re launching monthly Humanity in Tech events. With the growing popular demand of our womxn in tech and diversity in tech events this seems like a great next step for New Tech. With these monthly events we can build a Seattle community for you to tap into if you’d like to build relationships with others focused on DEI. Use the code ‘newtechie’ to grab 15% off tix or email me if you’d like to be a sponsor! 🙂

It’s hard to believe we’re just a week away from Halloween. With the scariest night of the year fast approaching, I thought this was the perfect time to revisit a dreadful topic that we’ve discussed several times over the years. While we always strive to make New Tech events unlike any typical networking function, we know it can often be the biggest source of fright.

As with anything else in life, networking is a skill. For one to become comfortable (or perhaps even enjoy it), it takes preparation, practice and perseverance. To help make this essential professional activity a bit less spooky, I’ve compiled some of the top tips to exorcise the demons from networking.

  1. Just do it. According to the old cliché, 90% of the work is simply showing up. And that is especially true for networking. Most of the time if you just bring yourself into the room, the universe will somehow help you meet a good person to know.
  2. Prepare for success. Is there a list of attendees? If so, scan it and pick at least one person that you will attempt to get to know. And have your elevator pitch. Just share it the same way you would with your neighbor, not the way you would with a potential hiring manager, investor or client.
  3. We’re all in this together. Remember that everyone in the room is there to meet new interesting people. Even though most of them are there to do business, we all love to meet new friendly people with shared interests.
  4. Bring a friend. There’s no rule that says you have to attend a networking event or a conference solo. Share your goals with someone you trust, then have them act as your support during the event. They can help break the ice in a conversation and you’ll have more fun. However…
  5. Mix and mingle. Don’t spend the evening with only one new person. This may be what’s most comfortable for us, but it provides the lowest payoff for your time investing in attending a networking event.
  6. Be yourself. Networking works best when it isn’t professionals acting professional, but professionals being human (like at our New Tech events). Don’t act like a robot conducting a transaction. Yes, networking can be intimidating, overwhelming and awkward, but the key is to find shared interests. Talk about snowboarding on the weekend, a movie you just saw or the funny thing you saw on your way to work.
  7. Listen then talk. Approach people who are already talking. Hang back a little and hear what they’re discussing. Look for what’s interesting to you about the conversation and comment thoughtfully with your own unique ideas about the topic. Listening first, and during the conversation, shows that you care about them and aren’t just there with your own agenda.
  8. It’s better to give than receive. Focus on how you can help the person you’re meeting because the more you give, the more you get. People love to talk about themselves and they love people who care about them. Show you care by understanding what they need and try to help any way you can.
  9. Say their name. Every chance you get to say someone’s name after you meet them, say it. It’s everyone’s favorite word, helps to build rapport and helps you to remember their name. Everybody wins!
  10. Follow up. After the event, shoot the people you met an email sharing why you enjoyed meeting them. If you don’t keep in touch, you can’t build a relationship and you’ll be forgotten in a few days.

Hopefully this advice will prevent you from trembling at the thought of attending your next networking event. We’ve covered dozens more tips over the years on how to banish the fear of networking (or at least disguise it). What else do you do to make it a little less terrifying?

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