Networking has quickly become the forum for job seekers and recruiters alike who want to connect with like-minded professionals. Therefore, the way you handle yourself in person can often carry more weight than the words written on your resume. Confidence is a crucial aspect of showing off your experience, professionalism, and self-assuredness, so it’s important to enter each event with your head held high. Here are some different ways to feel and act more confident while networking in order to secure the job of your dreams.
Look the part
Looking put-together and mature will not only give off an air of professionalism to others, but it will also help you feel more confident in yourself. The benefits of a well-fitting outfit and shiny shoes can go a long way in subconsciously making you feel, and then act, more self-assured. An outfit isn’t the only way your looks can make you confident in your first impression, however.
Many people struggle with insecurities over physical issues that keep them from feeling confident in social and business situations. Balding in men, for example, has been found to significantly lower a man’s self-esteem, therefore diminishing his ability to actively participate in conversations at events, advocate for his career, and make connections. Yet, most people don’t realize that a lot of physical insecurities, like balding, don’t have to be permanent. For example, with the use of prescription medications, over-the-counter treatments, or even a mix of the two (like Hims’ hair kit), balding can be managed: you can even see the progression for yourself here. Don’t let your insecurities– whatever they may be– slow your career trajectory. Recognize them, and either accept them or address them in order to continue your networking success.
Practice, practice, practice
What better way to find confidence than in assuring yourself over and over again that you’re able to do whatever you set your mind to? Practicing can not only give you a better idea of areas you need to work on (perhaps you need to improve your introduction or shorten your elevator pitch), but it can also make you feel confident in your abilities to present yourself effectively.
Start by practicing a quick run-through of your experiences that doesn’t sound like a regurgitation of your resume. Then, write down some questions to ask that strike conversation and show your interest in others. If you struggle to come up with effective questions, check out this guide from Harvard to spark your thought process. Lastly, consider reading up on recent industry news and developments. An expansive knowledge about the work of those you’ll meet at the event will serve you well and help you come across as well-informed and passionate about the field.
Taking the time to run through the important topics you want to cover can help you feel less concerned about the unknown and more comfortable in your abilities to speak with others knowledgeably. Keep in mind, however, that sticking to a planned script will make you come across as boring and uninterested: just use your practice time as a way to understand the points you want to speak to, not memorize lines.
Play to your strengths
Instead of focusing on what is bringing down your confidence, try emphasizing the aspects of your personality where you take pride. Perhaps you’re really great at reading others, or maybe you’re a skillful listener. Use these abilities to improve your performance and enter networking events with more confidence. For example, people who are good at reading nonverbal language can use that to recognize when to steer the conversation to new topics or approach people who will be more receptive. Comparatively, those who have a good memory and listen well will be better able to connect with others and participate in active listening.
Take some time for introspection to discover where your own advantages lie. Whatever your strength, you should lean in and find comfort in the areas where you excel. Often, these can distract from any particular insecurities and help you act and feel much more confident and composed.
Use these tips to enter any networking situation with newfound, but much-needed confidence. Just be sure to follow up each event with a thoughtful and detailed thank you note to those who you want to permanently add to your professional network.