Every professional has heard about the importance of networking. This advice forms the basis of ‘career success 101’. But what does networking really look like? How do you do it if you are nervous or introverted?
I’ll share one of my secret weapons for networking inside my own company – stake out your company cafeteria.
The cafeteria provides a casual place to touch base, be seen, brighten someone else’s day and strategically plan your networking.
Networking is about making a connection – large or small. Casual greetings count as networking.
Say a friendly and upbeat “hi” or “how are you” to everyone you know. You don’t need to stop, chat or ask for something.
All people have a fundamental human need to be seen and recognized by others. You can network and make other people feel good at the same time.
These passing interactions make other people feel good, keep you top of mind and create a positive vibe associated with you.
To go a step beyond simple greetings, introduce yourself to someone you want to meet. Take the opportunity to introduce yourself to the manager of the project you want to work on or to someone you admire.
Sometimes the best networking results from striking up a conversation with a random person. Waiting in line is an easy place to start a conversation. Introduce yourself or ask a question. You never know who you will meet.
Plan a lunch meeting
Arrange to meet people for lunch in the cafeteria. This allows you to be seen and greet people as you eat.
Change up your dining companion – reach out to people you don’t know as well. You benefit by getting to know that person better. You also increase the chances of being introduced to people they know.
Beyond networking, the cafeteria can also be a tactical advantage. At one corporate job, the cafeteria was a key part of my strategy for getting quick decisions and responses from hard-to-access senior leaders.
Sometimes getting a meeting scheduled was challenging. In those cases, I would hang around the cafeteria at prime lunchtime and wait for the leader to show up.
Catching them in the cafeteria allowed me to have a quick conversation or get an approval. Mission accomplished.
Don’t overthink networking. Start practicing by staking out your own company cafeteria. Good luck and good networking!
Ann Howell is a guest blogger on behalf of PeopleResults.
You can learn more about Ann on her website (www.Howlead.com)