Networking is tricky, and whether you’re handing out resumes at a job fair or chatting with a potential employer at an industry event, it’s easy to get intimidated or find yourself in awkward situations. It happens to the best of us, but luckily, Boss Network founder and career expert Cameka Smith has some helpful tips for making the most of these important situations.
In a piece for Black Enterprise titled “Success Quips: 3 Quickfire Networking Tips,” Smith shares some of the knowledge that has helped make her a leading author, entrepreneur, educator, and speaker. Her Boss Network is a community of women who “support each other through conversation, online and via event-based networking,” according to her bio, and she certainly knows what she’s talking about. Scroll down to read her valuable advice.
1. Fight Awkwardness with Laughter — Next time you find yourself in an embarrassing spot, don’t act like everything’s OK. Make a little quip, just to let the other person know you’re aware of what’s going on, and that you’re mindful of your own foibles. “Not that we are making light of the situation, but just showing transparency to the point that [we all know we are] not perfect,” Smith says.
2. Pen a Personal Follow-Up — After chatting with someone at a networking event, be sure to reference your chat in the email you send later on. You might reference a funny story you discussed or share a news story that’s somehow relevant to the person’s career. It’ll show that you were paying attention and have real interest in what they’re up to.
3. Keep It Real — Everyone gets intimidated sometimes, but according to Smith, the best way to fight this is to be honest. “A simple, ‘Hello, I am a fan of your work especially the ….’ can make or break an introduction,” she writes. “Having knowledge of something they have done or an award they received always makes people feel good.”