On June 21st, YWiB Vancouver hosted Networking With Confidence, a workshop event on facilitated by Shepa Learning Company’s Gayle Hallgren-Rezac and Judy Thomson, co-authors of Work the Pond! Use the Power of Positive Networking to Leap Forward in Work and Life. During the interactive and engaging session, Gayle and Judy gave their insights on utilizing positivity, proactivity, and confidence when networking to expand your network and leap forward in your career. Here were some of the transformative outlooks on networking effectively as shared by our workshop hosts, as well as our workshop participants.
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable
It’s an often unspoken truth that people feel uncomfortable in networking settings. It may feel terrifying to talk to people you don’t know, but all it takes is putting on a brave (and smiling) face and going for it. When approaching a group of new people, start off by asking, “May I join you?” - it’s a request that won’t get denied. Introduce yourself, be attentive and engage, and even dare to start a conversation by throwing out a question to the group. The more you do what’s outside of your comfort zone, the more you will feel comfortable with being out there.
Open up the circle
Whether in one-on-one conversations or in group settings, adopt a host-like mentality and go into any interaction with the intention of making others feel comfortable. Remember how you felt when you walked into a room where you didn’t know anyone. You could have been frozen on the spot, not knowing what to do, or have been consumed by nerves that prevented you from making the first move. Be an enabler by inviting new people into your conversation and acknowledging their presence of new people who enter into your networking circle. Make an extra effort to rescue the wallflowers, or the people you see standing off to the sides of a room. You never know what they may have to say or offer!
“It’s not about you, it’s about discovering what you can for someone else.”
When it comes to your perspective on the purpose and value of networking, think of it as a new opportunity for making connections and for giving something to someone without expecting a favour in return. This philosophy takes the pressure off on you when approaching networking situations, as you no longer feel like you’re selling something and will instead go into the conversation wanting to know more about a person.
Be a connector
After getting to know a new person and discovering how you can help them, do something. In your follow up with your new connection, initiate ways to get to know them or help them out. These actions can come in the forms of inviting them for lunch or coffee to get to know them, making an introduction to someone in your network who may be able to support them with a project they’re working on, or providing a knowledge-exchange by sharing an interesting article on a topic you had discussed in your conversation together. Connect with them even further by following your connections on social media and engaging with them in an online setting.
Utilize your broad network
Oftentimes, it’s who you don’t know or only vaguely know that can open up doors for you in terms of new opportunities. In fact, 80% of people have found jobs through a connection they made when networking. Seek to find the value in the lighter connections within your strategic network, whether it’s to connect an acquaintance with a friend who’s seeking a new career path, or if it’s for your own professional growth. The most important person you know can be someone you’ve never met before.
Elizabeth Rosalyn The is the Communications Coordinator for YWiB Vancouver's events team. Currently, she is the content & social media specialist at Rise People, a digital HR software company that brings HR, payroll, and benefits together in an all-in-one people platform.
A lover of stories, she lives to explore and write about the arts, music, entertainment, travel, and culture, all while sipping on a cup of earl grey tea. She is one of the founding directors of the pop culture & lifestyle magazine, The Hudsucker. Visit her personal blog at Elizabeth Rosalyn.