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How to Become More Comfortable With Networking

You know that networking is the most effective way to find a job, but the truth is that you'd rather have a root canal!  What is it about networking that makes it so painful?  Some people don't like asking for help.  The idea of networking makes them feel like they are asking someone to hand them a job.  If you are the type of person who likes to do things on your own, that can be uncomfortable for you.  Also, an important part of networking is telling people that you're amazing at what you do.  Self-promotion makes a lot of people feel awkward.  It almost makes you feel like a sales person and your product is you!  In addition, many people are shy and just getting out there and talking to new people is enough to make them want to hide.  If this is how you feel about networking, don't despair.  There are ways to make networking a LOT less painful:

Smile! Yes, you are uncomfortable but if you put on a smile and genuinely engage with people, you will eventually start to feel more relaxed.

Take a genuine interest in others.  The most effective way to forget how nervous you are is to be completely focused on someone else.    When you are talking to someone, ask them questions about themselves and their work and actually listen to what they are saying.  Being a good listener will help you to build stronger connections and will get rid of your jitters.

Be ready to talk about yourself.  A big part of networking is telling people what you do.  It is important that you have a professional introduction prepared and that you are able to deliver it smoothly and confidently.  Practice your professional introduction in front of your friends and ask them for their feedback.

When it comes down to it, networking is really just talking to people.  Being phony or putting on a show is actually really bad networking.  Instead, if you just focus on meeting people and building relationships, you will quickly develop a strong network that is ready to help you find your next job.

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