Networking is an essential life skill.
Networking style is a matter of temperament.
The hare seeks opportunities to meet many new people and interacts easily with groups of all sizes. The tortoise seeks a steadier pace of interaction and prefers to slowly engage a few people at a time. Both styles can successfully cross the proverbial finish line of “professional connectedness”.
Devora Zack explains this pace-setting concept in her book Networking for People Who Hate Networking:
Quantity is an exhausting and inauthentic measurement of success for introverts. (p. 57)
I suspect that many information professionals avoid networking events because they are naturally introverted and find it exhausting and overwhelming to mingle with large groups. Zack uses proven techniques such as these to pace herself at networking events:
- Dress up a notch
- Give yourself half an hour alone beforehand
- Volunteer to work the event by helping with badges, etc.
- Go with a friend
- Set a goal of meeting 2 new people
- Arrive early!
- Freshen your breath
- Scan the room for approachable people
- Be approachable yourself
- Prepare conversation starters in advance (see The Fine Art of Small Talk by Debra Fine)
- Give & take in conversation
- Visit the refreshments table and/or the information table
- Ask for business cards & give yours away. Jot down notes on cards you receive.
- Gracefully exit conversations “It was great to meet you. May I have your card?”
- Introduce new acquaintances to others that you already know.
- Follow up afterward with a personal note or email.
Our chapter is offering several events with networking components this year. Set a goal to cultivate at least 5 new professional connections this year, and take advantage of these upcoming opportunities. I’ll be posting more tips on professional networking before the first event.