Even if you’re the shyest or most introverted person in the world, you’re probably already networking, without even knowing it. That’s because “networking” is a terrible word for a thing most of us do anyway: build relationships. The goal is to maximize what you’re already doing, plus look for additional opportunities that fit with your personality and lifestyle – in other words, to network painlessly, in a way that will build your career and not drive you crazy.
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1. Expressing passion isn’t bragging.
If you’re networking-averse, you probably have an issue tooting your own horn. That’s totally OK. In fact, many people will probably find that refreshing, in today’s personal-brand obsessed culture.
But, there’s a big difference between constantly harping on your accomplishments and showing that you’re interested in a topic. If you like what you do – or are seeking out people who have your dream job, and are interested in what they do – don’t hide your passion for the topic.
You don’t need to be cool. Be enthused. Ask questions. Show your interest in what the other person is saying. You’ll make a good impression.
2. Bring your business cards with you.
When it comes to networking, it pays to be prepared. Maybe you’ll never become someone who feels comfortable showering a gathering with business cards, but if you keep a few on you at all times, at least you won’t wind up writing your info on cocktail napkins with a borrowed pen.
3. Social networking is networking.
For people who find in-person gatherings draining, social media can be a great way to connect with colleagues, clients, and potential employers, without ever leaving the house. LinkedIn is the most famous social network for job seekers and other folks who are trying to take their career to the next level, but Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram all have potential to help you build your connections, as well.
When it comes right down to it, the best site for networking is the one you’ll actually use. So if you’re crazy for Twitter, start combing those hashtags; if you love Facebook, start interacting with companies in your industry on their pages.
In short, while networking, begin where you are, and start with what you already enjoy. Finding your dream job and building a satisfying career doesn’t necessarily have to be hard – at least, not all the time – and networking doesn’t have to painful in order to “count.”
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