Networking Advice from the Dating World

Your palms are sweaty. Your heart is racing. You’re not sure what you’re going to say or how you’re going to fill the next hour with conversation. Is there something in your teeth? And are you really wearing that?You’re meeting a new contact for the first time—but really, you might as well be on a blind date.The resemblance between dating and networking is uncanny; after all, both require you to meet new people, make lasting impressions, and turn casual encounters into long-term relationships. And somehow, being your awkward self is supposed to pay off too.In other words, networking is nerve-wracking—just like romantic relationships. So to battle sweaty palms and social anxiety before meeting a new contact, try some of these tips (taken from real dating sites):

Know what you want

“Don’t say stuff like ‘I don’t know, what do you think?’ or ‘It’s up to you’ constantly.” – Cosmopolitan

Nobody likes a waffler. Think ahead about goals for your networking session; do you want your “date” to connect you to more people, look at your resume, or give you an insider’s look at her company? With relationships, you can’t get away with indecision—and networking isn’t one of those let’s-just-see-what-happens-after-a-few-drinks things. Aim for concrete results right away, and consider what you can offer in return.

Prepare conversation points

“Think about current events, movies you’ve seen, trips you’ve taken or books you’re reading–anything you can fall back on if conversation dries up (which it can when you’re nervous).” – SheKnows

Ever lose your normal social skills at networking events and coffee meetings? Think about cool stuff to discuss ahead of time: a smartypants article you read from Forbes, your thoughts on social media marketing, or the state of rising college tuition—these will prevent awkward silences and make you look more put-together.

Show interest in the person

“Men and women say the best dates have a 60-40 split—you talk about the other person 60 percent of the time, and yourself 40 percent.” – Men’s Health

Networking, like dating, is about building good relationships—and that means investing in the well-being of others. Ask contacts about their backgrounds, cool experiences on the job, and life in general. If you only network for personal gain, you won’t accomplish much; yield to the give-and-take instead of self-serving, and your relationships will thrive.

Think about new opportunities

“Ask, ‘What other emotions do I feel about dating and how can I access them?’ Focus on hope, new potential, happiness, connection and adventure.” – eHarmony

Prep for success. If your meeting goes well, you might get a new job lead, new contact, or valuable advice—and if things don’t click, you only lost an hour of your time. While networking feels like a risk to your pride or professional skills (especially if you and your “date” don’t connect), the potential gain matters more than temporary nerves.To build a great relationship, you have to make yourself vulnerable; just close your eyes, take a deep breath, and start talking to people. Well, maybe don’t close your eyes (awkward…). Soon you’ll be a networking guru—maybe even a love expert.

What similarities do you see between dating and networking? Leave a comment!

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