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How To Network if Networking Feels Weird to You

Let’s face it— avoiding creepy, desperado vibes when ‘adulting’ and putting yourself out there can be extremely tricky in the business world today. Unfortunately, there’s a fine line between the two; and in terms of networking, it’s important to do it tastefully or forever face the career consequences.

How do you build career-oriented relationships without committing social suicide? How do you make an already unnatural situation smooth and effortless? If you’re clueless in this department, that’s where we come in. Welcome to Networking 101 for the awkward and uncomfortable (we’ve all been here).

Here’s five tips to help you navigate networking like a pro, or at least help you fake it till you make it:

1—BUILD RELATIONSHIPS BEFORE YOU NEED THEM: Nothing screams desperate more than a random reach-out your senior year of college with an obvious cry for career help. In order to network with the least amount of personal pain, do yourself a favor and keep up with your connections regularly throughout your four years of college. Every few months check-in to say hey and maintain a friendly two-way  relationship. The more genuine you are, the more you’ll benefit down the road. (Photo via @alexadmendoza)

2—USE SOCIAL MEDIA: There’s so many opportunities right at your fingertips, so why not take advantage of them? LinkedIn is an obvious tool to showcase your talents and experience, but depending on your field, Instagram may deem even more useful. In other words, it’s important to set the same professional tone on all social platforms, for your friends, parents, followers, and future employers. Always be smart when it comes to social networking, and never post anything that’ll jeopardize your character, AKA isolate all crazy weekend shenanigans in your camera roll, instead  of on your public feed. (Photo via @emmamejlstrup)

3—ASK QUESTIONS YOU ACTUALLY WANT THE ANSWERS TO: Be thoughtful, do your research beforehand, and save your precious conversation time for the juicy info a Google search won’t provide you. This is an easy way to show your interest and stand out in the crowd without having to physically do  anything. Plus, you’ll actually walk away from the conversation with valuable information to help you move forward. A win-win  in the networking handbook.

4—FOLLOW UP: When you meet someone at a dinner or networking event and exchange contact information, be sure to follow up with them the very next day. Following up is pretty much what distinguishes a real connection from a fake connection. Although millennials take this as a “We followed each other on Instagram” moment, simply going the extra mile and letting them know “It was nice to meet you” will be noticed. In the networking game full of thousands of faces, it’s easy to lose track. So next time think to yourself, “Why even bother if you’re not going to stay in touch?” while pressing send.

5— BE CONFIDENT: I speak from experience when I say, do not let your nerves get the best of the conversation. Been there, (embarrassed myself), done that. Odds are, the professionals have been in your position, feel for you, and are looking to help you in every way possible, but communication really is key. First impressions are everything, so it’s important to bring your A game in every opportunity you’re given. The more confidence you radiate, the better picture you portray. And although overcoming the struggle is real, your future self will thank you for sure. (Photo via @alexadmendoza)

So whether you already have your dream job or you’re trying to make the right connections to find that job, networking is a part of life— you might as well make the most of it along the way, right?

Any networking tips you have used to get over the forced awkwardness and land yourself a j-o-b? Let us know in the comments below!