The Scandinavian Guide to Non-Awkward Networking
Networking can be challenging, uncomfortable and just plain awkward; especially if you’re Scandinavian (sorry for generalizing, fellow Scandi ladies). It’s not like we’re all introverts (or like we all find networking challenging), it’s just that talking to strangers isn’t something that we’re taught to do in a natural way; it’s not a big part of our culture. The concept of “networking” is typically associated with going to events filled with people you don’t know for the sole purpose of making new connections, which puts a lot of pressure on someone who isn’t incredibly comfortable with networking in the first place. Running in the opposite direction of any networking event can be tempting at times, but some networking is usually required for both professional and personal development.
Avoiding environments that screams “networking” (like a networking event) whilst still being able to practice your bonding-with-strangers-skills and make some new connections, could potentially be much more effective than trying to force out skills or personality traits you weren’t naturally blessed with. For that exact reason, we’ve created a list of low pressure networking methods that do not include you working the room like a social butterfly on red bull.
We don’t necessarily think of social media platforms as places to network, but if you’re clever about it, they could be. Social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter…(and the list goes on) allow you to connect with pretty much anyone from the comfort of your own home. If you come across someone on the internet who could be a resource to your business, someone you would like to collaborate with, or just someone whom you seem to have a lot in common with – hit them up. Doing research is not the same as stalking, and people are usually flattered when they receive a polite email or DM from someone wanting to get in touch for a good reason. That being said, you probably have to meet this person in real life too, but a one-on-one meet up at a coffee shop is very different to attending a social event, and it allows the two of you to connect on a more personal level. Get researching, ladies, they’re called social networks for a reason.
Workspaces Or Coworking Spaces
And by that we don’t mean coffee shops (although they can be good for networking too… if you’re in the US), but the kind where people only come to work or have meetings. Why would it be easier to network there, you may ask? Well, the beautiful thing about networking in these types of places, is that everyone has their mind set on work and not necessarily just networking, so it’s a no pressure (or at least a low pressure) zone. It’s also really easy to talk to people in these places because you already have an ice-breaker; their work. Here’s a creepy little pro tip, though: keep your ears wide open and listen to the conversations around you to find out if anyone is in the same field of work as you or doing something you find interesting and useful – then talk to them, people don’t usually bite.
Tagging Along With A Friend To An Event
Networking on your own can be terrifying; networking with a friend, on the other hand, can be slightly less intimidating and actually quite fun. In our subjective opinion, this is actually one of the best ways to network if you want to make sure you’re making quality connections ( you know, since your friend is connecting you with people she or he already knows). Obviously this method of networking requires you to have a friend with a relevant social circle who can introduce you to new connections, which is not a given. Therefore, we recommend doing some research on your own (are we the only ones picking up on the stalking pattern of this article?) to see if any of your current social media connections frequently attend events that would be useful for you to attend too. The easiest way to go about this is to visit the Facebook events that you would like to attend, and then check if any of your connections have RSVP’d themselves as “attending” or “interested”. If they have – hit them up with a DM to ask if the two of you could attend the event together. If none of your friends are going to the events that you would like to attend (maybe that’s why you need to do some networking in the first place), you can ask a friend who you think would be interested to tag along with you, and then inform her/him about your wish to do some networking with their help.
Again with a stalking nature to the networking method, joining Facebook groups for people interested in the same things that you are is a really good way to meet the right people for your purpose – since you already know that they’re into the same stuff as you (or the stuff you need them to be interested in). Getting to know people within a Facebook group is probably one of the easiest things to do in the world because the members have purposely joined a group about something they’re engaged in and passionate about, and are typically interested in getting to know other people who are too. Join a group where you think you could make some connections and don’t be shy; start a thread on the group wall about a topic you’re interested in, or if you like; ask if someone’s interested in getting together, which feels more natural than asking a total stranger – you clearly have things in common.
Asking Your Friends For Help
Ok, we’re not even gonna attempt to camouflage this method: it’s good old fashioned stalking. Go onto your social media platforms and find out who knows who. Who would you like to get in touch with? Who works in the same field as you? Who knows the people you need to know? Scandinavians tend to be (sorry for generalizing us again, ladies, but we all know it’s true) a little shy and reserved when it comes to straight out asking for what we want – simply because we don’t want to impose our “problems” onto anyone else, or (obviously) disturb them in their very very VIP lives. It’s so silly; most people are very happy to receive a flattering message from anyone, and even happier to be able to use their skills, social network or whatever attribute they may have, to help someone out. Hit up a friend and ask her/him nicely if they can introduce you, or arrange something casual like a coffee date or lunch, so that the two of you could connect.
If You Do Need To Attend A Networking Event, Follow These Simple Advice:
Sometimes, you will have to attend events and gatherings where doing some networking is inevitable, and even though the mere thought of it might make you nauseous, we know you can do it. Follow these simple advice, and you will get through it with a well regulated blood pressure and some new social connections when you leave:
1. Do Your Research In Advance:
If you’ve been invited to the event via Facebook, check the list of attendees to see if there is anyone on that list that would be useful for you to talk to. Read up on what they do, what they have done and what they are interested in so that you will be able to approach them with relevant questions.
2. Be Approachable:
This is a tough one if you are not incredibly comfortable with the situation, but being approachable is key to making new connections at a networking event. Try to smile, keep your head up and make eye contact with the people around you to let them know you’re available and open for conversation.
3. Ask A Lot Of Questions:
People love talking about themselves, and asking relevant and genuine questions is a foolproof way of connecting with people and making a great first impression. Don’t be annoying though – let them finish responding to one question before you ask the next and respond to their questions if they have any.
4. Have A Drink, But Keep It To One (Or Two, Depending On Your Tolerance):
If your nerves are getting the best of you, there is nothing shameful in having a drink in order to relax – A LOT of people do this (me included). Just know your own limits and keep it to one or two – nobody wants to talk to a sloppy drunk, and you don’t want to wake up the next morning feeling anxious that you may have said something stupid or unprofessional.
5. Try To Have Fun:
We’re not all blessed with natural ability to make small talk and connect with every single person we meet, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make connections at all. It’s easy to place all the focus on ourselves and whether or not people will like us and want to talk to us, but connecting with new people is a two way street – you need to like them too. Shift your egocentric focus from whether or not they will like you to just being open to potentially meeting some new amazing people and try to have fun with it – it’s not the end of the world if you don’t connect with one of two people, we’re not meant to get along with everyone. You’re awesome, regardless.
Get Out There, Scandi Ladies!
[Please feel free to share your thoughts and reflections in the comments section]