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Tuesday, May 12, 2020

How to Network When You're Awkward AF (spilling the real tea on what no one ever tells you)





I'm not the girl who rushes in front of a crowd to speak to a panelist moments after a breakout session ends empowerment conference (If you know, you know.)

I'm just not her. Sure, I've done it before, but it's extremely nerve-racking, and honestly just not my vibe. But my network is still incredibly strong.


 When it comes to networking at conferences, I constantly overthink everything and just wonder about exactly what I could say to make them remember me out of hundreds of girls. I'm totally all about stepping outside my comfort zone, but hardcore traditional networking it's still something that is extremely challenging to me.


I know, I know, it's all about the elevator pitch. But I haven't mastered mine yet. I'm still awkward AF even at 23. I'm learning. I'm getting better. But in general, I think I just prefer smaller settings when it comes to networking. I would rather organically make a connection than trying to quickly figure out what to say to get someone to remember me.


At these conferences or networking events, it can feel like you have to fight for attention in the middle of a crowd of girls who all want the same thing--- a contact with someone who can maybe get them closer to their dreams.  Okay, I feel like this is coming off negative, but by all means, this is definitely still an amazing way of networking. Again, don't be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone at times when you feel called to, but this isn't the only way.

My personal truth is that networking is HARD. And scary. And confusing, Really, just all of the things. But it's not impossible. I had to find what works for me, and thank God we live in the digital age, cause WHEW! I don't know where I would be.

Some of my best networking and connections have come from establishing connections online. Linkedin and Instagram have gotten me more opportunities than I could ever count. This has become my favorite way to make connections, and honestly, it's been way more productive for me than anything else (shout out to the internet, and social media. Can't thank you enough for keeping me employed and thriving.)

Anyways,  what I'm trying to say is networking in 2020, does not look one way, honey (omg, just realized that rhymes lol.) The internet is your friend, so work it. Don't let it work you. So, with that being said... here are my top three ways to network when you're awkward AF.



GENUINELY CONNECT WITH PEOPLE YOU ADMIRE ON INSTAGRAM

I cannot tell you how far Instagram has taken me. Without it, I don't know where I would be. It's the reason why I landed my job in social media right now. My advice is simple. Follow people who you think are interesting and cool, and show them genuine love. BUT please do not follow them, and then slide in their DM's the same day asking if they can send your resume to a higher-up at their company. Just be normal, and be real. Develop an internet relationship based on realness. Nobody wants people to show fake love to them.  Literally no one. So just pay attention to their journey, when they have an accomplishment, say congrats. When they are slaying, say "girl, you are killing it." Just be genuine. Because no one likes feeling like people are only talking to them because of what they could potentially do for them. Just trust me on this one, and remember to be genuine. You'll develop a real and organic connection this way. When an opportunity comes along, and you express interest, they'll remember you for being supportive and genuine.





SHOOT YOUR SHOT AND MESSAGE THEM ON LINKEDIN 

Whew! This one is a little scary. LinkedIn is definitely not your average social media. Since it's centered around networking and career, I think it's pretty acceptable to request to connect with someone you don't know with a short message. It can be like, "Hey I'm a college student majoring in "blah, blah, blah" and your career sounds amazing, I would love to connect. Just fair warning, a lot of them won't respond to your message, but 80% of the time they'll agree to connect with you.



ASK TO INTERVIEW THEM FOR YOUR BLOG OR PUBLICATION YOU WORK FOR 

This probably would only work if you're in a media or communications field or major, but ask to interview them.  This is honestly one of the best ways I've connected with a lot of people I personally admire. To my journalism and communications students, utilize this! Do you know how many people love being interviewed to talk about themselves? A lot, even the introverts of the world love to sit down and talk about their journey and passions. If you are in college, work your student status. People love talking to students, and they most likely won't say no if you say you want to write a Q&A blog post on them or that you want to interview them for your school magazine. 



One reason why I say this is one of the best, is because you are both there with a purpose, and the relationship is automatically mutually beneficial. And usually, after the interview, they always want to learn more about you and your experience as a student and future career goals. Plus, it's also super easy to keep in contact with them. Once your interview is published, you can follow up and share the link and keep the connection going that way.



With networking, it honestly comes with time. Try a couple of these tips, but also just try what works for you. And if you would like any more advice on networking or career topics, please comment below.







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