When you think of networking, you think of a huge conference setting with an inordinate amount of people moseying about, drink in hand, casually and confidently chatting with people they’ve never met. For some of us, this is our natural habitat.
For the rest of us, we dread seas of strangers eager to introduce themselves. You might feel socially awkward, mentally drained, and seriously overwhelmed. The good news is, networking from the couch can be just as effective as attending a giant networking conference.
Use Your Friends
Chances are you have several friends that love networking. You might even say that they’re so good at networking, they don’t even realize that they’re doing it half the time. You’d probably find it easier to ask a friend to introduce you to one of their colleagues than introducing yourself to a total stranger.
If this is the case, ASK THEM. It’s easier to be awkward with your friends than with a person you’ve never met before. You might even discover that your friend has already been networking for you with a colleague looking for a web designer like you.
Use Social Media
You might be tempted to lock up your social media profiles as tightly as possible, but as we’ve mentioned before, that’s not the best practice. Instead, let your professionalism shine for the corporate world to see.
Your LinkedIn profile isn’t the only social media platform that you can use as a networking tool. Yes, LinkedIn is better suited for connecting with professionals and colleagues within your career, however Twitter can be used as a way to reach out to experts in the field, even people you look up to.
You don’t have to tweet at them so that the entire world can see, but you can send them a personal message letting them know that you’d be interested in working with them or that you could use some advice about a new project management software tool you’d like to use.
Making your own digital business card is as simple as taking a picture of your current business card, or typing up your information on a word processor, adding a good headshot of yourself, printing it and taking a snapshot of it with your phone.
Send it to your networking-wiz friends and ask them to send it to someone they meet that might be able to help you out. You could also try these business card apps.
And we’ve come full circle. If you play this right, you could have a whole networking ecosystem that cultivates your current connections all while avoiding the social anxiety that comes with meeting new people.
Eventually, you’ll have to get off the couch and meet with your new connections if you want them to develop any further, but this is an excellent place to start and will definitely remove many of the anxieties that go along with networking.