Finally, the world is starting to slowly open up again, and YWA is no exception! We’ve been dipping our toes back into the waters of in-person gatherings, and scheduling more in-person networking and other events.
If you’re feeling a little awkward or unsure about the idea, whether because it’s been a long time or because this is your first foray into networking (at least in person), here are some tips to help calm your nerves and get you going.
1. Ease into it
We’re all still figuring out this return to “normal,” and it’s important that you go at your own pace. Prefer to stick with virtual networking interactions for the time being? They’re still happening! We always encourage healthy boundaries.
For those who are itching to get back out there as soon as possible, YWA networking events are coming back to the physical world, gradually. Sign up and attend as you feel comfortable – we’ll be there to (safely) welcome you!
2. Give assumptions the axe
Remember that networking isn’t necessarily just one thing, done one way. It can be any interaction, really! Forget business-casual dress codes and awkward handshakes; plan on new outlooks and great connections.
YWA holds professional workshops and hosts speakers, yes. We have dedicated networking times that our members love. If you need a little something more though, there is plenty more that YWA has to offer. We organize a variety of volunteering opportunities, happy hours, a book club, dinner parties for small groups (Party of 8!), and more. We offer the chance to sit on a committee and learn new skills while working with other members. All of these things offer the chance to talk, collaborate, and get to know your fellow YWA members. The networking (and friendship!) comes naturally.
3. Know you’re not alone
Whether you can see it or not, there are always people who are feeling a little nervous or uncomfortable while networking. Next time you’re at an event with intentions to network and you’re feeling hesitant, look around and think about who else might be feeling the same way. Everyone is there to meet new people! Considering it from the viewpoint of helping someone else can sometimes help you to forget your own nerves: what if your approach was just what they needed to help them break the ice?
Beyond the shared experience of networking nerves, there’s another, very current shared experience: covid-19. Everyone has been affected by it in some way or another, and many people have done a lot of reflecting on what they want in a job; in a social circle; in life. Make the most of it and get some insight on what your new network discovered in the last year.
4. Plan ahead.
If you don’t have one yet, develop an elevator pitch. Think of a few answers to some common icebreaker questions. Work out what you’ll say when someone asks you to name something positive that happened for you over your year of sheltering in place. In short, plan ahead for what you’ll say about yourself when the time comes for introductions. You’ll feel much more confident when you arrive prepared!
At the same time, come up with a few conversation starters. What’s a relevant, informed, appropriate topic that you might be able to weigh in on? If you want, you can even do some brief research.
Finally, plan to ask questions. If you’re struggling for something to say, you can eventually pick up on a point they make and continue the conversation. Even better – it’s a great way to show a person that you’re interested in learning about them, and can help you both begin to build a connection. And after all, that’s what networking is all about – making connections.
Not a YWA member yet? You’re in luck – enrollment is open until April 30! Click here to learn more about membership, and to become a YWA member.
Current members – head to the Events tab on InfoHub to view and register for upcoming events, both in-person and virtual. See you there!