The Networking Game
Networking is one of the best ways to advance your career. You can meet potential clients, find a new job or develop ground breaking strategic partnerships - because a lot of the time, it really is about "who you know".
Still, social anxiety is real and striking up conversations with strangers, even at events designated for that type of schmoozing, can be really tough, we hear ya! What if you could take what often feels like an unavoidable chore that will make or break your career and turn it into a game? Here are three tips for upping your networking prowess by gamifying the process.
Set A Goal
Like most things in life, networking isn’t as impactful without a goal in mind. In the past, a successful networking excursion meant coming home with a stack of business cards but with tools like LinkedIn, the focus has shifted to a few targeted interactions. Quality over quantity.
Think of it like the “Final Boss” in a retro arcade game: what do you want to get out of this networking event? Figure out what that is and set some reasonable goals. Speaking to a HR recruiter? Connecting with people in a similar industries? Learning about other industries? Doesn’t matter what it is, having a clear purpose will make setting up your networking game a lot easier.
Count 'Em Up
What’s a game without some points?
Create a point system as a way to track your progress - assigning a value for each step in the process, with higher values attributed to the important things you know you won't want to do. Got dressed and attended an event? Give yourself 100 points. Had a meaningful conversation with a potential client? Take 200 points! Followed up with a thoughtful email the next morning? 400 points for you!
Making a mental note of the point values is a great way to remind yourself why you’re at the event and what you want to accomplish.
Treat Yo Self
When those points start building up, remember to reward yourself for a job well done! Think about what personal rewards you want and what point value they ought to have. The bigger the reward, the more you should have to do to earn it. Maybe 500 points means you get to stop for an ice cream sundae on your way home. 2000 points? Sounds like you've earned a beach day to me!
And remember: don’t forget to honor the system! Actually follow through on the rewards to keep yourself motivated.
Remember, even though we're gamifying it, networking isn’t a race! A couple of high-quality conversations can lead to some amazing opportunities - so don’t let a point system get in the way of that initial goal.
Go forth and build those connections!