For Those Who Hate Networking, Try These 8 Tips

Nancy Anderson
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If you loathe business networking, it's frustrating to be told again and again that meeting new people is essential to get ahead. Networking helps you build lasting relationships, and with the right approach, it doesn't have to be a chore. Whether you hate small talk or awkward social situations, don't rule out business networking as a way to further your career. Develop a strategy based on your strengths with these eight effective networking tips.

1. Find Your Ideal Environment

Why set yourself up to fail by networking in places that make you uncomfortable? Maybe you hate working the crowd at big halls, while it's less daunting to meet with a small group in an intimate setting, such as a restaurant. Make a mental note of locations and activities that naturally put you at ease and spend less time in scenarios that send your stress levels skyrocketing.

2. Chat Up a Loner

Chances are, there are other wallflowers who struggle to start a conversation. Take the initiative to engage with someone standing alone. This makes it easier for both of you to find common ground and develop a natural rapport.

3. Choose Interactive Events

Business networking doesn't have to involve playing business card roundup with a herd of social climbers. Everyone has a life outside of work, and you can build strong connections by bonding over shared interests. Look for events where networking isn't the primary activity, such as conferences, luncheons or charity sports games.

4. Be a Patient Listener

Don't put too much pressure on yourself to be great at small talk. Ease into business networking by asking about the other person's background and interests. That way, you can find genuine conversation points and get others to open up. Forming quality relationships is more important than talking to every person in the room.

5. Find a Friend

Overcome your initial nervousness by bringing a friend or talking to someone you know before diving into the crowd. You can even make a plan to approach different groups together or share contacts. Make a deal to introduce one another when you meet an interesting contact, suggests Vanessa Van Edwards, a behavioral investigator.

6. Bring Value to the Relationship

No one wants to talk to someone who's completely self-centered. Approach business networking as a two-way street and think about useful advice and referrals you can offer to help others. People are motivated to return the favor when you're authentic and supportive.

7. Set a Goal

Set a goal to introduce yourself to two or three new people at every event, so you have incentive to go outside your comfort zone. Even if you fall short of the goal, starting one meaningful relationship is better than chatting aimlessly with no purpose.

8. Collect Contact Details

Instead of shoving your business card at everyone you meet, focus on getting contact information from others after a productive conversation. You have no way of knowing if anyone will reach out to you, so make sure you have the means to follow up with them.

Business networking is a valuable lifelong skill that leads to better career opportunities. Let go of preconceived ideas about networking and concentrate on ways to leverage your unique personality. What networking tips can you share to help others stay confident in intimidating environments?

Photo courtesy of US Army Corps of Engineers Europe District at


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