September 27


Common Misconceptions about Networking

By Celeste DeCamps

September 27, 2022

BeAFriendlyFace, communication, confidence, ElevatorPitch, NetworkingMadeEasy, self improvement, smile

Be the Friendly Face Everyone is Looking For.

I've conducted several workshops helping people with their communication skills. The biggest question I get asked is how to network effectively. One gentleman explained that going to networking events always causes him stress. He said, "I get so nervous that I don't know what to do with my hands. Everyone seems to form into groups, and I'm reluctant to approach them or find a way into the conversation." It's understandable being so self-conscious that suddenly we don't know how to walk or talk without feeling awkward when meeting new people. We think that everyone is judging and evaluating our every movement. The truth is, they are, and you're also making your impressions of them. 

Evolution has hard-wired us to distinguish friend from foe. So we're looking for friendly faces to feel safe and secure. In addition, we want to make a good first impression, especially when we're hoping to make new business contacts. Feeling self-conscious is normal, but it doesn't mean we have to blend into the wall hoping that someone will notice us. Networking can be easy and, I dare say, fun as well. We just have to lose some of the myths surrounding the meet and greet.

Myth #1- The Elevator Pitch must be perfect

No, it doesn't. Do yourself a favor and put together a few sentences that describe what you do or what opportunity you're looking for. You don't need to recite your resume, accomplishments, or awards. It's not a job interview; it's a chance to meet other professionals and make some connections. 

Myth #2- A Successful Networker Has the Gift of Gab. 

Not necessarily. Many people, including me, had to work on developing the confidence to approach others. I would practice what I wanted to say, and little by little, I became better at introducing myself. I also learned to be engaged with the person I was talking to and pay attention as they spoke. Listening, sometimes, is more important than doing all the talking.

Myth #3- Collect as Many Business Cards or QR Codes as You Can. 

It's not a scavenger hunt. Having information to follow up with your new acquaintances is important, but the event time is short. Utilize that time to have conversations and develop quality contacts over quantity. Looking at a bunch of cards and not being able to put a face to them doesn't seem worthwhile. 

Myth #4- The Only Reason to Network is When You're Looking for Employment. 

Expanding your contacts should be something we do regularly, with or without a job. The more diverse your network of people is, the more opportunities you'll find and get help from other experts in various fields. 

Myth #5-A Person Can Network If They Have Years of Expertise in an Industry. 

Everyone should network, no matter their level of experience. We all have to start somewhere, and you may be surprised that your summer job gave you more skills than you realize. In one of my workshops, a young man told me he didn't have anything to say about himself. I said, "You've never had a job?" He said, "Right now, I'm a lifeguard at the YMCA." I said, "That's an incredible and essential job. Have you saved anyone's life?" He said, Of course I have. It's what I'm trained to do." I said, "That's impressive, and you definitely have a great skill set to talk about." Don't discount years of school, training, and extracurricular activities. It all makes for conversation and finding common ground with others.

If you go into a networking event with the mindset that you'll meet interesting people, you'll find the experience more enjoyable. Remember to pull your shoulders back, lift your head, and smile. You'll be the friendly face everyone is looking for.

About the author

Celeste DeCamps has a B.A. in Communications from the University of Miami. She worked in radio and television, was a professional belly dancer, drummer, percussionist, nightclub owner, and a sales rep for Southern Wine and Spirits for 12 years. Throughout her different career moves, speaking to and teaching women how to be more confident is Celeste's most fulfilling job.

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