You want to reach out and connect to the right people to get your work noticed and move your career forward
But often you may feel fear or a sense of dread at the thought of picking up the phone, writing that email or introducing yourself to someone at an event.
Not everyone is a natural at networking but remember, networking is a skill that can be learned and perfected. It just takes some practice.
Here are 8 tips for making the networking process easier:
- First of all, relax and have fun! If you get a feeling of tightness in your chest, solar plexus or throat, take a moment to be present, ground yourself and breathe deeply into the area of the discomfort. It often will dissipate.
- Know why you are there. Networking is about connecting, creating and maintaining relationships with others. It is not about “selling” yourself.
- Listen genuinely. Be more interested in others than in just talking about yourself. Ask questions. Learn about their interests and concerns.
- Be prepared to reciprocate. It is much easier to connect with people when you are not just thinking “what can this person do for me” but are genuinely prepared to offer them your resources. Consciously look for ways to help them. For those of you who have the narrative going that its being “pushy” or “why would they want to help me?” keep in mind giving and receiving are two sides of a continuum.
- Share your passion. Networking is an opportunity to express your intentions with passion and excitement when you do talk about what you are doing. By showing your passion and commitment to your goals, people will get excited and want to participate in your career. It’s infectious! For instance, if your screenplay just won a contest, say “I’m so excited my script won the contest and I’m looking for producers who might be interested in financing it”
- Know your “asks.” Know what it is that you are looking for and be prepared to state it clearly and specifically as possible. The more clarity you have about what it is you want the more likely you are to get it.
- Let go of an attachment to a specific outcome. All you can do is put yourself out there with integrity and clear intentions and allow things to unfold. Opportunities often come up in places where you least expect them.
- Follow-up with grace and gratitude. Always send a personal note of genuine thanks to the contact. If you are emailing someone, make it easy for people to follow through on what they say they will do. Do not be disappointed, show disapproval or write negative narratives in your head if they do not reply or take action immediately. Sometimes it takes more than one gentle reminder. People have busy lives. They most likely will appreciate your graceful persistence.