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Have you ever been told that you need to be actively participating in networking events in order to progress your career?

Does the idea of networking leave you with cold and clammy hands at the thought of business development, with perhaps some constricting of the throat when facing public speaking? Relax, you’ve come to the right place for some advice!

Relax

Step one is to seriously relax. Take a deep breath. Still nervous? Take another and read the below so you can engage with networkers in a comfortable and personable manner.

Keep it Simple

Imagine you’ve been dropped into a new country, speaking a foreign language, with no idea what’s going on. Great! This is a good starting place for resetting your approach to networking. Most folks think the purpose of networking is to walk away with some new business opportunity…a modern, corporate, tactical war to be won or lost. This is not the case. In fact, quite the opposite!

Simply make your best attempt to truly have a frank and honest conversation with whoever happens to be placed in front of you. Ever notice how the most senior leaders seem to have a natural rapport with their audience? This is because they are connecting with each person on a human level, rather than trying to extract some piece of business information with a scalpel.

Listen, Listen, Listen!

Listening becomes your biggest weapon here. People love speaking about themselves, and rarely in the sense of their latest office achievement. It may seem counterintuitive, but discuss the big tuna they reeled in last weekend, a particularly astonishing article, or perhaps a funny story from the office holiday party. Walk away learning any fact or morsel about the person…the bond you form with some personal knowledge will far outlast the latest business jargon.

Realize There Is No ‘Right’ Way to Network

The above applies to anyone across the spectrum, from the most senior executive to the freshest college graduate. There is truly nothing to be lost or sacrificed by networking, only information gained and relationships built. The truth is that there is no secret, gilded path to fame and fortune, but rather a combination of hard work and being in the right place at the right time.

By applying some of these newfound “casual” networking skills, it will become exponentially easier to find yourself in the right place at the right time simply by knowing who among your connections has the information. Happy networking!

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