Networking Tips: How to Present Yourself to Others
Networking is a big buzzword in industries across the world. Before, it would be enough to give a company or business a resume, and they would probably hire you. Today, in the competitive world we live in, a piece of paper is just not enough. Instead, we need to use our personality to leap off the page and into someone’s mind using our charisma and speaking skills. But what really is networking?
Networking is essentially marketing yourselves to others. It’s persuading others to learn more about you, and in many cases, take you in for some type of opportunity. At Race to a Cure’s first-ever social event, we were able to hear from University students about their thoughts about networking, as well as gather a list of helpful tips about how to present yourselves to others, whether it be your acquaintances, professors, or even potential employers. Networking is an important skill to possess, but there’s not just one correct way of going about it. Nevertheless, we can take general advice from others and add our own personal flair to it. Based on my personal experience and advice from University students, here are some tips on how to present your best self and network with others!
Prepare yourself beforehand.
This doesn’t mean to come to a networking event with a script memorized or to read from. That is a big NO. Instead, come prepared with a few things about yourself and your work in your head. How would you present yourself to someone else? Your name? Your school? Your qualifications? Think about what key facts about you are important to your identity, and for others to know. Make sure to keep a list of your experiences and work as well, so that if anyone ever asks what you are interested in or what you do, you have something to answer with. A bank of your experiences also allows you to start conversations with others, and helps you to find similarities between you and whoever you end up connecting with.
Dress to impress. Sort of.
This is a well-known saying, but it’s important to understand what it really means. It does not mean going to purchase expensive suits and dresses that look very fancy. It does mean to maintain good hygiene when meeting others, ensuring your clothing is clean and ironed properly, and that overall, you feel comfortable in your outfit. In many cases, it also means that you have the ability to express yourself through the clothes you wear, and you have the opportunity to share a part of yourself with others. But if you are confused as to what to wear at a networking event, business casual clothing is always a safe option.
Try to maintain interesting conversations.
When talking to others, you want to make sure you are keeping them engaged in your conversation, and that they are left wanting to ask more questions. You also want to stand out amongst other people. You can start a conversation about a common topic - school, job - but then talk about something deeper. For example, you can start off by talking about an extracurricular activity you take part in, but then go onto explain what social issues you are passionate about and how this activity helps you address it. Additionally, if you happen to be networking with individuals from a certain company or business, try not to answer the same standard questions. These standard questions would include: What do you enjoy most about your job? What advice would you give to others? While these are good questions for panels or webinars, when doing face-to-face conversations, they can become very presentation-like and less of a group discussion. Instead, try more open-ended questions, like: What do you do in your free time? How did you become exposed to the field you work in now? Any advice to someone struggling with (insert subject)? These may seem like personal questions, but they allow you to have a better conversation with an individual since they are more related to the person, rather than just their position.
Be confident in yourself.
Of course, this is easier said than done. Confidence is not just being the first to speak or the smartest in the room, confidence is about being comfortable when talking about yourselves to others, and overall, believing in yourself. When you're confident, you are able to radiate your positive energy to others, and while this is not something that could be physically explained, it can definitely be felt by others. When networking, don’t be afraid about bragging about yourself (to some extent) or making a mistake - this allows you to seem genuine.
In the end, networking is all about being yourself, and being able to present your amazing personality to others. Every single person reading this is a fantastic individual and has something to offer. Now, it’s your job to share it with someone else. Remember, networking is a free tool - all it requires is interested individuals and an open mind.
On a side note, if you are interested in watching R2AC X AlumNav’s informative webinars about everything university related - from programs to student life to scholarships - check out our Facebook Race to a Cure for links to the recordings!
Featured image is courtesy of Pixabay.
Article Author: Asima Hudani
Article Editor: Valerie Shirobokov