We all know a friend of a friend of a friend who got their dream job or met the love of their life through connections. Yeah, your friend who introduced her colleague who knew this other person with a great circle of useful contacts, for some, the dreaded networking.

The 3-minute pitch sounds familiar to you? Who you are, how you started, and the idea you’re trying to sell? Good, that tells me you’ve done this before! Funny enough some of the most known dating apps have added a space to develop these professional relationships because human connection actually rules the world.

Until a few months ago, networking was to me what a visit to the dentist is, a painful chore you do once a year so you can cross it off your to-do list. Also, consider I come from an 8-million population country, so eventually you run out of new introductions. Luckily, the US, a country where everyone has a business card in their pocket, has helped me overcome my phobia and it has grown on me slowly.

Whether you’re trying to find a new job, get investors to launch a business, or simply grow your LinkedIn contact list to exchange ideas (find mine here, Hey there, excited to connect with you!) let me share with you some useful tips on how to break the ice smoothly and get the conversation going.


  1. Set some clear goals

Think of it like an improv practice, you are polishing your speech, finding your best material, and also establishing a base of followers. Maybe collecting a few business cards or sharing your own, assessing these connections with your most charming and professional self can be as productive as you set it to be. Mind over matter, it doesn’t have to be a two-hour conversation, but a solid 15-minute chat can definitely take you far.


  1. Identify common ground

It’s great to collect contacts, but what makes it even better is that said contacts are not only useful to you, but you are a valuable resource for them too. Word of mouth can open many doors, and reputation it’s key to gaining entry to a new pool of experts and established individuals in the field. Research the activities the professionals in your industry participate in and make the appointment to be there. If they prefer certain types of literature, be updated with the newest titles and authors.


  1. Reflect on what you can offer

Everyone likes to think about themselves as multitaskers but in reality, our brains are wired to focus on one single task at a time, and it’s impossible to master everything in one lifetime. So, think long and hard about what you bring to the table, what makes you unique in your area, and what makes you stand out from others. Your resume can say a lot, but so can your body language, stay calm and smile. Learn to “pitch” yourself and try to avoid bragging, exaggerating, or selling yourself short, all of them usually create a negative impression. You want to be someone they will remember, not someone they want to forget.


  1. Practice makes you almost perfect

Like in life, everything is a matter of habit so take advantage of every opportunity but don’t get obsessed on being perfect. Join networking groups in your city, ask your colleagues if they attend any events and ask them to be their plus one, check your university/college newsletter for Alumni reunions or mixers, and check your social media for the keyword: networking. I assure you it’s happening in your proximity.


  1. Always be prepared

I’m not saying you carry a dozen business cards in your wallet (if you can, that’s great too) but have a version of your resume or LinkedIn somewhere in your phone where you can easily locate and share. Make technology your best networking friend, and even join the QR business card trend, making people’s lives a lot easier if they try to reach you, you are just a click away.


  1. The most important one: Make the effort

You never know if a quick exchange with a stranger can change your life (for the better I hope).


Thumbnail photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash