Networking is fun – no, really!
Remember your first day at a new school? Cue sweaty palms and a racing heartbeat. While I outgrew the corduroy overalls, I still get the shakes when I am placed in a new social setting. Networking can sometimes feel overwhelming and questions like, “Are they easy to talk to? Will we have anything in common? Do they like puppies?” are often racing through my head.
Building your own circle doesn’t have to feel weird or uncomfortable…in fact, it can be fun! Here are five ways to skip the awkwardness, and get your own Lean In Circle set up:
Start with one. Reach out to just one friend, one colleague, one industry peer or just one person. Once you’ve gotten to know them and have initiated social momentum, encourage them to reach out to another, and so on. Use the power of compounding in your favour.
Find your common ground. Ask questions, listen, share your thoughts, offer advice, learn about others and build a connection. One of the easiest ways to connect with other people is to simply be open. Don’t forget to share your story too.
Spruce up your digital business card. When I see a Linked In profile that is active, up to date and engaging, I think to myself, “Now, here, ladies and gentlemen, is a boss.” Update your social profiles, share relevant content, inspirational messages and of course, appropriate memes, when necessary. When you make an effort to engage, often times, others engage back.
Set the mood. Step up and create a comfortable space for everyone to meet. Whether it is virtually, at a busy coffee shop or at your office, make an effort to create an ambience that works for your circle. Discussing technical topics? Maybe you book a room with AV resources. Hosting a free flowing circle? Light those candles. Whatever you do, keep your circle’s comfort in mind.
When in doubt, just go for it. Some of my favourite meetings have been what I call, “for no specific reason” meetings. These meetings are with individuals who are in completely different environments, industries, professions and general life points. We have varied background and that is exactly the point. I aim to connect with these people without a specific agenda or shared objective and in doing so, have some fantastic contacts.
Whether your preference is to go big or keep things small, keep the above in mind when you’re building your circle. And always remember, you got this.
Ready to start your own Lean In circle? Find out how to get started here.