Being confident when networking is an essential part of learning about new jobs, and it’s a great skill to cultivate as a young professional. But it can be intimidating. How can you be confident in what you’re saying when you network with other people?
Confidence doesn’t always come easily, especially if you’re new to networking.
Planning, practicing, and managing your nerves are the keys to networking confidence. Whether it’s meeting new people, conducting an informational interview, or reciting your elevator pitch, confidence will help you connect with others more effortlessly.
Follow these five tips to be more confident when speaking to others.
1. Review Your Mindset
Networking can be scary and intimidating. Approach networking as a conversation instead of a chore to help it be more comfortable. The good news: there’s no single right way to network or do informational interviews.
2. Plan Ahead
Preparation is the best antidote to nerves. Think about what you want to learn and plan your questions that way. Jot down your questions and bring them with you while networking.
When you’re networking, you need to be prepared to introduce and describe yourself. Of course, it’s important to prepare ahead of time, but that doesn’t mean you need to rehearse canned responses. Remember, this isn’t a test: It’s just a conversation.
“I’m doing some research on careers. One of my assignments is to talk to five people about their jobs. Can I ask you a few questions about what you do for work?”
- “What do you do, and what’s your industry?”
- “How did you get into that field?”
- “What do you like about your job?”
- “Did you always know you wanted to be X?”
- “Do you have any suggestions if I want to learn more about this kind of job/industry?”
Or if you meet someone at an event and they have a job you want to learn about, you can say, “You’re a marine biologist? I’ve always been interested in that. Do you have time to talk to me about your career? Or can I connect with you later?”
3. Practice Out Loud
To feel calm and confident when networking, get familiar with your questions. Practice saying your questions out loud with people you know and trust.
You don’t need to practice morning, noon, and night. Practice just enough to remember your questions and become comfortable with the conversation.
4. Manage Your Nerves
If you’re still feeling nervous after planning and practicing, you can learn to manage your nerves to gain confidence.
Try these nerve-calming techniques:
- Breathing exercises
- Reciting mantras
- Visualizing the meeting going well
- Getting a good night’s sleep
- Positive self-talk, such as, “I’m scared, but I can do this.”
If someone asks you a question, it’s okay to say, “Let me think about that…” while you pause to formulate a thoughtful response.
Everyone feels nervous from time to time. Find comfort in the fact that as you get more networking experience, you will feel more confident.
5. Be Direct and Friendly When Asking Questions
Some people may be free to talk to you immediately about their work. Others may want you to schedule an appointment or email your questions. You don’t need to offer lunch or a coffee date to network or do an informational interview.
Whatever their availability, be respectful of their time and attention. If possible, get their contact information to follow up with either a written or emailed thank you note.
Practice is the key to confidence. If you’d like to learn more about the world of work and how to have comfortable, productive networking conversations, Schedule a free Discovery Call now.