Building a network is not easy, especially if you are new to your profession. Those that have been in the industry for a long time have done the work over many years to build their own community of people. Many of whom have likely helped to bring them to where they are today. But networking is not only about knowing people in high places, it’s also about your social skills and confidence to bring forth your best self on the job. It can feel awkward in a new position to join in on the small talk in the lunch room, or chime in on the pre-meeting banter.
It’s all very new and exciting but can also be nerve-wracking and bring on bouts of social anxiety if left unchecked. Not knowing what to say is one thing, but not having anything to say is another. It’s time to step up your networking game so that you can feel confident talking to anyone, whether in the office, to new clients and hey, perhaps even meeting someone that interests you. Here are a few ways you can branch out to build confidence when building a network:
Step Away From Work
Meeting people isn’t easy even in a well-known environment, but if you’ve moved to a new community to start your career it can feel even more isolating. One way to get involved in your community is to branch out outside of your work life to a cause that speaks to you. If you love the outdoors you could look up the local community contacts page on your city’s website. There is likely an outdoors group that meets to hike, a surfing or cycling club etc. Community groups are always looking to welcome new members to their clubs.
By joining one or two of these groups, you will start creating your own personal network to draw from, and you never know just where those leads will take you. Besides, if it’s a passion of yours, it won’t feel like work to volunteer with them, and you’ll be meeting like-minded people that can help you set some personal goals as well.
Find Your Own “Cheers Bar”
Not a bar per say, but find a local spot that you enjoy spending time at and make it your place. Is there a hip coffee shop on the corner near your apartment? A Saturday Farmers Market you’ve yet to peruse? By familiarizing yourself with a local business, the staff will get to know you and look forward to seeing you regularly. They’ll start to know you by name, begin asking you questions about your work which can lead to further conversations about your field and other networking opportunities. You may find out that they know someone in the business also. The possibilities are endless, it really does pay to be nice.
If you’ve always wondered how the recycling works in your new community, call and book a tour. They are happy to educate the public on how to properly divert waste. This could lead to further questions about local zero-waste groups in your area if this is something that interests you. If it’s the outdoors that you love, call the city centre to see if they do trail clean-ups in the Spring and if they need volunteers. Interested in local produce? Call a local farm and ask if they ever do public tours.
The point is that most businesses are happy to give you a tour and answer your questions because they love your curiosity! It helps them educate you on what they’re selling, but also, it’s their passion and they love to talk about it. By showing you’re interested you are giving them the opportunity to open up, and it’s giving you the opportunity to work on your social skills.
Building a Network Takes Time
You won’t be able to do all of this in one weekend. It takes time building a network of new people in your life, but over the course of the year it will grow into other opportunities. Soon enough, you’ll have not only a full social calendar, but also lots to say when it comes to pre-meeting conversations. Do this and your confidence will soar like a boss.