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While networking is considered essential for a successful job search, it can be one of the most difficult skills to master. Many people feel uncomfortable meeting new professional contacts. Fear and social anxiety can keep you from making the most critical connections that can help you with your next job opportunity. So how can you make networking easier? Start with these ideas.

Introduce yourself.

Everyone is uncomfortable at a networking event. Well, almost everyone. There are some people who thrive on it but they are few and far between. Otherwise, everyone in that room is feeling the same anxiety you are about meeting new people. Take that initial step and be the first person to extend a hand and say hello. This could open up a great conversation.

Establish common ground.

The next step is to learn what you both have in common. This could be related to your profession, but it could also be general interests. Ask about families or pets. Ask about travel. The best way to determine what you have in common is to ask questions. Keep them appropriate. Then share your common stories when you see a chance, but don’t try to compete with one-upmanship.

Be a connector.

People with strong networking skills know how to do one thing really well: make connections. When you meet someone new think about others in your network who could benefit from knowing them, or vice versa. Ask them if they know that person and if not, offer to make a connection when you’re back at your email. This is a great way to ask for and get their contact information.

Network everywhere.

You don’t have to keep your professional and personal lives separate when it comes to networking. Talk to people everywhere you go. You probably spend a lot of time standing in line at the bank or the grocery store so why not strike up a conversation? If you’re out at the bar or other social activities, introduce yourself to the people around you. You never know who you’re going to meet. Practice also helps you get more comfortable in social situations.

Utilize social networking.

Lastly, don’t limit your networking to face-to-face encounters. The internet opens an entire world up that can help you make connections. The most important site for professionals is LinkedIn. Connect to former co-workers and bosses. Connect to others in your town. Join groups and participate. This can give you a bigger network of resources to pull from if you need help in the future.

NRI Staffing, now hiring for jobs in Washington DC, can help today!

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