Networking in a Hybrid World — Part II
In our previous post on networking, we talked about how to deepen your relationships with existing contacts by reframing networking as an ongoing effort to connect with others, rather than merely a self-interested transaction.
But what about when you are looking to expand your network by initiating new relationships? This has always been a tricky aspect of networking, and the hybrid work world has only made it more challenging. If it has been a while since you’ve ventured out, or if you worry the pandemic may have damaged your social skills, here’s a refresher on the basics of making new connections:
- Practice introducing yourself. Approaching someone new can feel awkward, but a quick introduction using this easy formula can kick off a conversation: “Hi. I’m [name], and I’m a [title] at [firm]. I help my clients with XYZ.”
- Prepare some good starter questions. How do you know the host? How did you hear about this event? Who are you here with? How’s that drink/appetizer/artwork/game? What a beautiful/cool/ugly/bizarre venue – have you been here before? If one of these falls flat, use a couple more to try and find some common ground.
- Buddy up. Working in a pair or as part of a team can help keep you accountable. You may want to designate a “wingman” or mentor to help you meet people at an event. Whether your goal is to meet someone new at a specific event or make more connections in general, check in regularly with your collaborators on how things are going. Also, make it easy for them to introduce and connect you.
- Make your contact information easy to find. This is about more than keeping your LinkedIn profile up to date — though that’s important too. Maintain your membership and alumni contact information. When you’re at an event, use conference apps or tools on your phone, such as MyCard on iPhone, to make instant connections.
- Maintain a spirit of empathy and generosity. Keep in mind that each positive interaction leads to a specific step forward.
As with any skill, the more you practice networking and relationship building, the easier they become. Stay positive and focus on what makes a relationship successful: authenticity, generosity, and empathy.
To read part one in this series on networking in a hybrid world, click here.