Mackay’s Maxim: The more you exercise your networking muscles, the stronger they get – and the easier networking becomes.
While some people are born socializers, not everyone is so lucky. Chances are, if you’re reading this article, networking can feel overwhelming if you aren’t the most social person around. Thankfully, you can practice networking, just like any other skill.
To start strengthening your networking muscles, follow these tips.
1. Practice Being in Networking Situations
Seeing yourself as a skilled networker is the first step. Imagine yourself in a scenario, then take time to ask yourself “What would an ideal networker do in this situation?” The more you answer that question and act on it, the more networking will become part of your skill set.
2. Find a Role Model
While role play can be a very effective tactic, take things a step further by finding a role model. The next time you’re in a networking situation, look to the person who is seems to be most successfully navigating the floor. If you can, ask to connect with that person and see if they have any tips that might help. What better way to learn than from an expert?
3. Take Lessons
Just like any other skill, you can find lessons for networking, be they in-person or online. Taking a class will allow you to develop the skills to interact with people, make a memorable impression, and have self-confidence in yourself. With a space to practice those core skills, you can learn more before networking with others.
4. Continue to Learn
Even once you finish taking your course and you have the core networking skills under your belt, there’s still plenty for you to learn. Rather than stopping there, find new opportunities to learn. Many publications talk about networking on a regular basis, and staying up-to-date can help you stay inspired to build your own reach.
5. Join a Group
Networking may seem like it’s intrinsically connected to business, but you don’t need to stay within your professional contacts to network. Any organization or group you can think to find can offer great opportunities to meet new people and continue to develop your skills. When in doubt, join a club connected to your interests and see what connections you can make.
6. Believe in Yourself
Staying confident in yourself can be difficult if you’re not used to networking, but it’s still incredibly important. When you put the work in, your networking skills will start to develop. It may take time, and you’ll encounter roadblocks along the way, but your practice and dedication will yield results. Stay confident!
Whether socializing is your forte or you have a hard time introducing yourself to others (or you’re somewhere in between), networking is within your grasp. The more you work to better yourself, the easier networking will become – and if you keep these best practices in mind, you’ll be able to make even more progress.
Seven-time, New York Times best-selling author of "Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive," with two books among the top 15 inspirational business books of all time, according to the New York Times. He is one of America’s most popular and entertaining business speakers, and currently serves as Chairman at the MackayMitchell Envelope Company, one of the nation’s major envelope manufacturers, producing 25 million envelopes a day.
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