The power of networking should never be underestimated. Especially when you’re just at the very start of your career path. Useful connections can help you climb a professional ladder and become a more experienced specialist in your field. Additionally, the rising importance of communication skills and emotional intelligence only make networking more valuable.

However, it seems like in recent years the whole networking thing became an overwhelming process that doesn’t really connect people but only results in the sequence of uncomfortable moments, spiced up with anxiety. This is far from true, but the wrong networking really can turn out to be inefficient and stressful.

Many young people imagine professional networking as a group of polished, suited executives who chat with a slightly smiling face and immediately become useful business partners that close a couple of deals within the conversation. However, modern networking works in a different way.

How to network in 2019?

If you want to gain professional connections without being awkward, take a look at a few tips on how to network in 2019:

Act naturally

Sometimes it seems if we didn’t call networking ‘networking’ and started talking about how to do it right, it would be much easier. Try a more humanized, relaxed approach. Don’t force yourself to talk to people you don’t really like and don’t assume you can become friends with everyone. Of course, networking requires efforts and preparations, but the more naturally it flows, the better the connection will be. Chances are, the majority of people feel the exact same way that you do when they have to talk to a stranger. Being yourself and taking a more intuitive approach will work much better.

Prepare a tagline

There are different types of networking events and different industries that people work in. If it’s an event for the community of young, creative people, you don’t need a cheat sheet to present yourself. But if you’re working in a more strict, corporate environment, consider developing an action plan. First, think of how would you describe your position. Essentially, many people will ask you where you work or what you do. To avoid uncomfortable pauses or, on the contrary, long stories, just prepare a universal tagline for this question. Also, make sure to dress accordingly and prepare your business cards.

Network everywhere

Keith Ferrazzi, an author of a popular book ‘Never Eat Alone’ once made a confession: he had never been to a networking event. What’s more, he described such events as a total waste of time. It is a controversial view, but it states a truthful point – you have to network everywhere, not just at the networking events. Sometimes, occasions dedicated just to networking are an imitation of networking. In fact, the real connection happens when you have touch points with other people. And this rarely happens when a huge group of random people of totally opposite interests gathers together. Try to think of networking as of your dating life. You will most likely meet a soulmate while doing something you’re passionate about than through a random Tinder match. The same is with meeting new people: you’ll click up with people you share interests with.

Networking, when done properly, can be the most powerful tool in your entire career. Even if you’re not an eccentric extrovert, meeting new people is exciting. And if you network intuitively and choose the ones with common interests, it will never be awkward.