Stop feeling awkward when networking

Networking, or as we like to call it, “connecting,” is a crucial aspect of professional growth, especially for Assistants who often work in fast-paced environments where resources, connections, and up-to-date information are key. Yet, the concept often brings discomfort, awkwardness, and sometimes stress for many individuals.

Understanding that networking is essentially about building genuine relationships can change your entire perspective. Here are three strategies that could transform the way you network, making it a less daunting task and more of an exciting opportunity for growth and new possibilities.

Redefine Networking as Connecting

Change your mindset by replacing the term “networking” with “connecting.” This simple shift can make the process feel less like a forced interaction and more like the beginning of a professional relationship built on mutual interests.

Think about the value you bring to the table.

What can you offer to the people you’re connecting with? By focusing on what you can contribute, the interaction becomes less about self-promotion and more about collaboration and assistance.

Networking questions for Assistants

Networking Questions for Assistants

Make sure your next networking event really works for you.

Questions to Ask a New Executive

Use this guide to work in sync with your Executive from day one.

Storytelling as a Strategy

One effective way to communicate your skills and value is through storytelling. Instead of listing your accomplishments, which might feel awkward or boastful, share short, engaging stories that showcase your experiences and competencies.

Remember to include not just your successes but also the challenges you faced and how you overcame them. This approach makes your contributions more tangible and relatable, and it demonstrates your problem-solving skills and resilience. Before networking events, prepare a couple of stories and practice them. They’ll come in handy when you’re making new connections.

Utilise a Network Map

You likely already have a more extensive network than you realize. Create a network map listing the people you know, how they can help you, or how you might be able to assist them. This map helps you see the wealth of resources around you and identifies potential gaps or opportunities to connect with new people. Remember, networking is not always about reaching out to higher-ups. Your peers or individuals outside your industry can provide fresh insights and opportunities, contributing significantly to your professional journey.

Master Your Introduction

Introductions might seem trivial, but they’re your first impression. Instead of the standard name and job title, use a formula that’s more insightful and engaging. Try the “I help [target audience] by [what you do], so that [benefits/outcome]” template. This structure not only explains what you do but also the impact of your work, making it more memorable. Don’t forget to mention what you aim to do next in your career path – this opens doors to opportunities.

Reflect on Virtual Networking

The virtual space has transformed networking. Reflect on how this change has affected you. Some find online networking easier, as it can be less intimidating than face-to-face encounters and easier to fit into busy schedules.

Others miss the human connection of in-person meetings. Acknowledge your comfort zone and seek a balance that works for you. Embrace online networking platforms and use them to your advantage.

In conclusion, networking doesn’t have to feel awkward or be a chore. It’s about connecting, sharing, and growing with others in your professional community.

By redefining how you view networking, preparing your stories, utilising your existing network, crafting a compelling introduction, and embracing the digital world, you set the stage for more organic, fruitful connections. As you step out of your comfort zone, remember it’s okay to be deliberate about your networking efforts. After all, you’re not just building a network; you’re nurturing relationships that could shape your career and professional life in extraordinary ways.