Networking meetings are an important part of your career. They can benefit more than just your personal career interests as the information that you gather and the people who you meet may have some relevance to your current job position — therefore your present employer will benefit from any tools that you pick up or resources that you can later bring in to work. Hell, you might even meet your company’s next hire.
We know networking meetings are effective, they wouldn’t exist if they weren’t. Yet many of us dread them and view them as events to which we are unable to get out of going to. What happens then, is we fail to get the most out of them as we aren’t setting ourselves up for success.
The whole reason we attend networking events is because we want to socialise with people who are business professionals. We want to meet more people like ourselves, and we want to widen our own professional networks. As a starting point, there are two things that you should check yourself for when you walk into a networking meeting.
Put your phone away
It’s like a tic that we all have now. We cannot bear standing alone — that’s not new — so we immediately pull out our cell phones and proceed to look as if we are doing something incredibly important. Ninety-nine percent of the time we are not responding to a crisis at work at all, we are searching frantically for an email that requires an answer so we can distract ourselves and not have to just stand and be okay with the face that nobody is talking to us.
Sure, standing on one’s own at a networking event is uncomfortable. But there is a reason for that. The discomfort makes you look for someone new to talk to. Then guess what? You just made a new friend.
It’s not really that different from the playground at school, is it?
The problem is that when you use your phone to lessen the feelings of awkwardness instead of letting it force you to approach another human being, you just totally wasted your own time. You’re not going to find new connections in your phone, or if you are, you could have done that at home.
Everyone at the event feels as vulnerable and awkward as you do.
Next time you are at a networking event, leave your phone in the car.