Have you ever considered skipping an event just because the word “networking” was in it? If you answered yes, you’re not alone.
A lot of people roll their eyes when they hear the word networking. Although it’s something we are encouraged to do, it often has a negative connotation—but it doesn’t have to. Make your next networking event a fun experience.
Nothing is worse than standing alone in a boring venue, so look for networking events at places that are interesting to you. This way, you’re more likely to be surrounded by like-minded people—making it easier to strike up a conversation.
For example, volunteer somewhere you’re passionate about. Volunteering allows you to be at the event without having to “be at the event.” You may find it easier to be social, and you’ll have an excuse to talk to people without feeling nervous. You may even meet more people as a volunteer than as a participant.
When you’ve found an organization or even that interests you, craft interesting questions. Anyone can ask where someone works or what they do. Instead, develop some questions that can lead to conversations, such as asking if they’ve traveled abroad, what they like to do when they’re not working, or if they have pets. Interesting questions can lead to interesting stories—a real icebreaker!
If the word “networking” is what’s throwing you off, simply ditch the word. Think of it as an opportunity to meet new people, share (and gain) new ideas and grow your resources. Plus, these events can represent a break from the people you always surround yourself with, so get out and meet someone new!