Networking: How to Take the First Step to Your Future
Jacky Duong is a fourth-year commerce student.
Networking can be difficult for many people. It takes time and practice to master the art of networking. The best approach is to get out there and try it. The more you network the easier it will become. You will grow in both confidence and ability but first you need to take the first few steps.
Since my first year, I have attended countless networking events that have allowed me to grow personally, professionally, and develop rapport with many business professionals. Here are just a few tips for beginners. The only way to improve is to put yourself out there. You never know how it will benefit you and help you achieve your goals. Just remember other people attending the event are probably just as nervous as you are. Do not be afraid to make that first move.
Before attending an event, it is a good idea to practice an elevator pitch about yourself. Your elevator pitch should be a short, 30-60 seconds, introduction about yourself. By preparing an introduction, you will be better prepared to talk about your personal experience. Being prepared may also eliminate some of your nervous feelings. It also helps with streamlining your thinking process.
Some networking tips that might be helpful are learning how to properly shake hands and being able to differentiate between closed or open conversion groups. When shaking hands always extend your right hand with your thumb pointing up. Grasp the hand firmly, make eye contact, shake the hand only twice and let go. Remember, shaking hands confidently will make a great first impression. Identifying a closed or open conversation group is a little trickier. Overall, open groups tend to be small and the conversation less intense. There will also be an opening in the formation of the group. Look for a group of people in a horseshoe formation. Closed groups tend to be participating in an intense conversation within a closed circle with no openings. These conversations are more intimate.
At your first few networking events take the time to watch people and learn. You can learn a lot by just observing the flow of the room. Good luck out there and remember everyone was once a beginner.