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  • Writer's pictureAlice Myerhoff

How to Network and Not Feel Super Awkward

Although I’ve been in sales for what feels like forever, I’m not the most gregarious, glad-handing networker around. I love a deep one-on-one conversation which is why I am good at what I do. I’m curious about people and I listen. So when I go to networking events and don’t have a wing-person alongside me, I often feel a little awkward and have to cook up a few strategies to make the event worthwhile. Here are a few tips that have helped me and may help you too:

  1. Purpose Before the event, take a moment and think about your reason for going. I find that this helps me reset a bit and have some intention, ultimately making the event more productive for me.

  2. Target Who will be at the event that you want to meet? If you had a chance to review an RSVP or attendee list, lucky you! Look over that list. Maybe even go old school and print it out and review it, highlighting the people you want to meet. Make some time to look those people up on LinkedIn so that you can have an idea of what they look like, making it a bit easier to find them onsite. If you don’t have the LinkedIn mobile app downloaded, do it now so that you can look people up while you’re there. If you’re doing this a day or two before the event, you could even message some of the people you are targeting and say something like “Hi! I saw that you’re going to the edtech networking event on Tuesday. I’ll be there. It would be great if we could find a few minutes to say hi.”

  3. Underwear Just kidding! But this is along the lines of the recommendation that if you’re nervous about public speaking that you should picture the audience in their underwear to make yourself less nervous. In this scenario, remind yourself that most people don’t feel super comfortable networking and introducing themselves. You are probably doing them a favor when you stick your hand out and say, “Hi. I’m Alice Myerhoff of Myerhoff Consulting. We offer sales consulting to organizations to grow their revenue. Tell me about what you do.” Well, that’s what I would say. You do you.

  4. Be Yourself It’s easy to feel like you need to put on a persona or act a certain way to impress people, but the truth is, authenticity is much more attractive. Be yourself, share your passions and interests, and show your personality.

  5. Follow up After the event, follow up with people you met. Send them an email or connect with them on LinkedIn. This shows that you value the connection and are interested in maintaining it.

Remember, everyone feels a little awkward at networking events, so you aren't alone. Just be yourself, listen, and look for common ground. With a little practice, you’ll soon be networking like a pro!


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