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Find the Fun in Business Networking

Business networking can be awkward, uncomfortable, forced and all sorts of inauthentic.

“Hello there, fellow working member of my community. Yes, we wouldn’t be talking if we hadn’t been forced to sit at the same table. Okay. Now it’s time to eat in front of each other while making more small talk. No, I’m not nervous — my ears always look red. Say, have I told you about how great I am…”

Sometimes you feel it’d be easier and more productive to stay at work or stay home rather than attend a networking event.

Yet networking is major for your career, especially a career in marketing. You can connect with people who could benefit from your strengths, who could help you with your weaknesses, who could even turn out to be a lifelong friend. You could meet both potential clients and potential creative subcontractors to help you do the work.

For us iMarketer bosses, we’ve been able to do what we do solely because of having a large network and community of business peers to work with. And now we’re going to help you do the same.

Face your business networking fears.

Networking seems so awkward, hard, [insert excuse here]. And there’s good reason you feel that way.

Business networking revolves around a main goal of advancing your career rather than spontaneously connecting with others for emotional and friendship reasons.

In a Forbes article, Maryam Kouchaki, professor at Kellogg School of Management, found in a study that this type of networking made people feel dirty.

Now you know this and we know this: You aren’t some selfish schmoozer only concerned about getting ahead.

Since networking is so vital to your career, and it truly can connect you to interesting, talented people, take these steps before your next networking event to help ease the feeling of dirtiness and inauthenticity:

  • Shift your networking goals from “This person could really help me get ahead” to “My talents could really help this person achieve XYZ.”
  • Consider how you can approach making connections with people. Instead of focusing on opportunity, focus on building a relationship and seeing where it goes from there.
  • Focus on them, not you. This wins every time.
  • Find a higher purpose for attending the event. Maybe you want to learn something. Maybe you want to feel more of a sense of community. Don’t let this be all about landing clients and projects.

Show up — and show up.

With networking, connections come first and opportunities follow. And simply showing up to the event isn’t enough.

You’ll see many people who attend networking events stick to their chair or cling to the friend they came with.

Remember to use your time wisely and to mingle with others. If you struggle with “working the room,” set a time limit for yourself. Make a goal of networking with new people for 30 minutes before you go back to your comfort zone.

And while you’re networking, it’s tempting to put in the “hard work” of selling yourself, but it’s better — and easier — to be yourself, seek out meaningful connections and waiting for good things to come.

Now we want to hear from you: What’s your biggest networking fear? Do you have a #NetworkingWin or #NetworkingFail to share?

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