Some of this article is based on information from Susan RoAne's book, How to Work a Room.
"Don't talk to strangers." "Wait to be properly introduced."
You may have grown up with these sayings but these admonitions often prevent us from meeting people in business, career and social situations. However, with some preparation and practice, you can overcome your reluctance to meet people in any situations. Developing "business relationships" is an important skill for all college graduates as they transition from college to work and throughout your careers. So, what do you need to to know to network effectively:
1. Change your thinking and your behavior.
Sometimes self-talk inhibits us from reaching out to others. Have you had these thoughts?
These kind of thoughts don't help us. In fact, they inhibit us from often taking advantage of the opportunity to meet people who may be able to share important information. Many times, this "I'll wait to see if someone comes up to me" attitude has us waiting around and getting frustrated. We need to think positive and change our ideas about how to operate in group situations. Here are some things to remember:
2. Redefine the term "stranger."
3. Practice an introduction.
Many people feel tongue-tied with the thought of starting a conversation. This usually comes from not knowing "how" to get a conversation started. Begin by introducing yourself and tell the person something about yourself that identifies a common thread.
An example to use for a Networking/career fair:
"Hi, my name is Alex Smith and I'm a student at the College of Saint Benedict. I'm excited about this opportunity to learn more about opportunities in advertising in the St. Cloud area."
An example to use at a career panel:
"Hello. My name is Alex Smith and I'm a student at Saint John's University. I'm interested in knowing more about what kinds of careers history majors have gone into."
4. Be actively engaged in the process.
5. Risk rejection.
Sometimes it happens. Some people just may not respond to your introduction. Don't take it personally-just move on. Continue to be outgoing and friendly and try again. Have a sincere interest in others and plan ahead: