In-Person Networking – It’s Not Dead

In-Person Networking – It’s Not Dead

There’s a lot to be said for the “new” networking—that is social media and the myriad options for connecting online.  It’s as easy as surfing the internet, posting brief thoughts and uploading photos and video.  And despite being able to share personal details and often random thoughts, it’s done on your own time, at your own computer and on your terms.

But in-person, face-to-face communication can’t be ignored.  It’s the opportunity to make your connections come full circle.  After all, even members of the Twitter feed TweetupRNO meet in person for monthly mixers.  That said networking in person can be intimidating for some.  Recently a friend noted how easily I approach strangers and strike up conversation, an ability she’s never been adept at, and asked for tips on meeting new people.  I came up with my top three, and I think they’re great to share.

1) People you don’t know are still just people.  The person you’re preparing to introduce yourself to puts their pants on one leg at a time too.  Plus, they may be just as nervous as you are about introducing themselves to someone new.  Take a deep breath, smile and start with, “Hi, I’m ____.”   It’s basic, but it’s just the beginning.

2) Don’t be afraid of looking stupid.  Reference back to #1 on this one; we’re all just people.  Everyone has looked stupid at some point in their life, and if you don’t think you have too then you’re fooling yourself.  What is stupid is passing up the opportunity to meet someone new, make a connection and grow your social circle.

3) Don’t be afraid of rejection.  If a person acts like a jerk when you try to meet them, that’s a reflection on their character and not a fault of yours.  Reference back to #1 again on this one; we’re all just people, some not so nice.  Smile, move on to the next person and start again.

These are a great start for someone new to in-person networking, but the only way to rein in your fear is just to get out and meet people.  Then do it again, and again and again.  You may not remember every person you meet at an event (and hey, if you’re me they may not remember you), but you’ll always see them again and your conversation may shift from “Hi, I’m so-and-so” to “Haven’t we met before?”

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