Networking has never come easily to me. Somehow, anything that had to do with selling myself as a skilled professional sounded too far from being humble, which is what my upbringing was based on. But being an author and a publicist required that I challenge myself outside of my bubble in order to achieve my professional goals. In the beginning, I found it very difficult but as I kept at it, it became easier. Currently, networking for me happens naturally. Below are some tips about putting yourself out there!
- The first trick is to practice with the people you encounter in your personal life. Almost always when you meet someone new the question of ‘what do you do for a living’ pops up. I used to respond with a short answer followed by ‘what about you’. Instead, we should take our time to answer, and offer information such as our website and book title. Then wait one second to give that person time to ask more questions. If no more questions happen at the moment, then follow up with, ‘how about you?’
- Most of us wrote a book because we are passionate about the topic we wrote about, or passionate about writing. So, when talking about what you do for a living, make sure you reflect your passion for it and continue the conversation by asking if they ever thought about writing a book. Welcome questions about the topic or your career, but if the conversation on the topic doesn’t spark, change the topic and focus on the person’s career.
- Don’t wait for networking events to network. In all honesty, I have never made any contacts from organized networking events that have resulted in any business collaboration. However, I have gotten new customers or vendors from casual meetings or gatherings.
When it comes to networking, there is no right and wrong. Just make it casual and have fun with it!