Twice a month, I facilitate programs for a Manhattan based group of job seekers. During our most recent meeting, we had an extended conversation on the awkwardness of networking--how it's easy for some, but incredibly awkward for others. It seems to me that problem with networking is that it is like riding a bike or swinging a golf club: the more you think about the process of doing it, the harder it gets.
When you focus attention on yourself, you can lose your perspective and your balance. If you've gone too long without riding your bike and start to think about it, you may see what I mean.
One fool-proof way to network is simply to begin by focusing on the other person's needs. Ask open-ended questions such as "What is the biggest challenge you are facing?" or "What's your biggest pet peeve?"
Express genuine interest and you are likely to be rewarded with interest in return. Ice broken.
As Kevin Donlan, a Minneapolis-based career coach recently wrote, "Networking is not about you."
To your success,