Networking is one of the most equally loved and despised aspects of career growth.
Some individuals live to network, while others avoid it at all costs. There are many folks who shine in online networking situations, but clam up at networking events.
While we may live in a digital world, face-to-face networking hasn’t lost its importance. In fact, the presence of online networking makes in-person networking even more powerful in terms of driving a unique connection. Taking the plunge and setting up a networking coffee date may be seem scary — it’s easy to to shy away from this kind of meetup in the world of instant messaging, email, and online forums.
But never fear! The following tips will help you find success at your next networking coffee date:
1. Come prepared.
Simply “winging it” won’t get the job done. There’s nothing worse than meeting up with someone to find out they don’t have much to say — especially if you’re networking during your job search. Do your research and prepare a topic and questions. It’s best not to act like you’re reading a script, but make sure to keep the conversation flowing.
2. Eliminate pressure.
Face-to-face networking can leave even the most extroverted person feeling pressured. When it comes to making a social or professional connection, it’s easy to place a lot of stress on yourself. Eliminate some of the pressure by remembering that confidence is key to the self-marketing involved in networking. Why wouldn’t this person enjoy connecting professionally with you?
3. Don’t expect too much.
While it’s important to prepare for a networking date, you should also try your best to keep any expectations in check. If you go into the meeting expecting this person to immediately call their manager and ask them to hire you, you’re just setting yourself up for failure. Remain open-minded and focus on really getting to know the person before you jump to any conclusions.
4. Get comfortable.
Offline networking can be a little tense if you’re not used to it. Try to make yourself as comfortable as possible on your networking date. This doesn’t mean showing up in sweatpants–instead, try to keep the professional conversation light. Networking doesn’t need to be stuffy, you can casually chat about sports or pop culture if it’s something the other person is also interested in.