A Different Kind of Practice

Personally, I have never been thrilled about going to networking events. I have never been the person to walk up to people and just strike-up a conversation, even in a professional setting. However, since entering college I have always been told that getting a job is not necessarily about what you know, but also who. I would not classify myself as an introvert because I have moments where I do become a socialize. I am like many people my age who are social when required. I know that upon graduation I want to be employed. Wanting to be employed and not really being fond of networking meant one thing; getting out of my comfort zone. Many people like me find getting of one’s comfort zone terrifying because you want the coziness, but you also want the success. I did what many people do in this situation, took a deep breath and jumped in the network pool. Now I did not drown because I, unlike some people in society, cannot always learn by just walking into events and just easily gravitate towards people, like trying to ride a bike for the first time I practiced. Here are my top 4 ways that I use to practice for networking.
1. Prepare an elevator speech, but don’t use it in the elevator: Many career counselors are probably going to yell at me, but hear me out. One should always have a statement prepared to introduce one’s self, however do not only pull it out in an “elevator” or at an event, rather use it to reach out to people who are in the industry on professional sites or even in an email. Many professionals are very open to talking to students one the phone and even meeting up with them to get a cup of coffee to discuss different topics.
2. Practice on SnapChat: Prior to going to graduate school, I had done to two networking events and I always felt pressured to always walk away with 12 cards and 3 job offers. And of course, that did not happen for me. While preparing for a networking event, I decided to try something different and use social media. I did what I called “Storytime on snap chat” and during these chats I would tell my friends a story from my life or my views on something. Now you do not have to use snap chat to use this technique, feel free to practice in a mirror, record yourself, or talk to your pet! Do what makes you comfortable to practice. Several things happened from this; my friends got to learn something new about me, they got to see me more since honestly, I barely posted on snapchat and most importantly I felt comfortable talking. I know for some people it’s not this easy, however do not be afraid to seek out new ways to express yourself.
3. Breathe: This technique may seem simple to most, however it can be hard to do when you’re in a new situation. Personally, I breathe in through my nose to gather all the doubt and exhale it through my mouth. To me, breathing is the most important of the four because it is the one often put on the back burner and it should always be on your favorite front burner. Taking a few deep breathes has always allowed me to regroup myself. Even if you must sneak away for a few moments to do so, allow yourself to decompress with a few deep breathes.
4. Remember, you are awesome: No matter if you walk away with fifty cards or none, you still attempted what many try to avoid. Just by getting out your comfort zone, gets you a little closer to get closer to your goals. Some network differently and others have more success at these events than others, but don’t forget to remain awesome and give your best effort.
These are the four techniques that help me when preparing to network. Please feel free to comment and let me know your networking techniques or if you tried any of these!