Top Tips to stress-free networking

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Networking is a great way to promote yourself when you’re job hunting.  And the great news about networking is that opportunities are readily available.  The bad news however is that some people absolutely dread the whole notion and end up either avoiding networking situations or attend events and then do a great impression of a wall flower once they get there! 

So what can you do to make networking your best aviation job promotional friend? 

Here are our Top Tips to stress-free networking:

  1. Be selective. Everyone has their own preferred social style and in the same way that you like some social settings better than others, you can choose networking opportunities that suit your personality.  It may be that you’re a morning person and you like networking settings where you’re seated and part of the event is perhaps a presentation?  Alternatively, you’re maybe an evening person who enjoys a more informal, stand-around event.  Either way, make sure you test and try to find the style and timing of networking that works best for you.

  2. Set yourself a goal. If you’re really shy, knowing exactly what you want to achieve from your networking effort will help you no end.  It’s a good idea to start small and increase your goals as you gain confidence.  It may be at your first event that you aim to approach just one or two people, but as time marches on, you might increase this to five or six people per event.  Either way, each time you achieve your goal you’ll gain enormous confidence in yourself. 

  3. Do all you can to feel good about yourself. In the same way that you prepare to feel good about yourself for interview, you should do the same for any networking event you attend.  Dressing the part, yet being comfortable is an important part of feeling confident; but it goes deeper than that.  A healthy diet, exercise and sufficient sleep go more than skin deep and show, so make the effort. 

  4. Don’t think of it as self-promotion. If you think of networking events as a way of getting your next aviation job, you’ll immediately put huge unnecessary pressure on yourself.  It’s better to think that the whole purpose of networking is to get the real you on the aviation stage; not to act as a carbon copy of what you think aviation employers might be looking for.  So be yourself and let the real you shine through.

  5. Know what you want to say. If you arrive at your selected networking event knowing what you want to get from it and what you want to say, you’re more likely to be relaxed.  A great plan is to decide how you will approach people and what you want to say about yourself.  While your words needn’t be carved in stone, having a couple of phrases up your sleeve to use when you approach someone as well as a short elevator pitch about yourself, will help you get all the awkwardness out of the way and then you’ll be able to relax and be yourself.

  6. Listen. In most networking events, listening is actually more important than speaking.  If you listen carefully to what potential aviation employers are saying, you’ll be able to gather hugely valuable information as well as picking up indicators of future opportunities that you might be able to cleverly weave your way into.
  7. Seek out people who are alone. If you feel nervous about joining groups, a great networking strategy is to approach people who are standing on their own.  If you can pluck up the courage to do this, thinking of it as helping others out rather than being pushy is a great way to trick your mind into believing that you’re doing a good deed!

  8. Have a business card. While it mightn’t always be appropriate to hand out business cards at a networking event, it’s a good idea to have a personal business card available should you need one.  If you end up speaking to someone who would like to stay in touch with you, this is a great way to show you’re professional and prepared.  Personal business cards needn’t cost a fortune and there are some great online printers who have stylish and classy cards for next to nothing.

  9. Stay in touch. If you do exchange personal details with someone interesting, take the time to stay in touch with them after the event.  A good idea is to pick up on something you discussed and follow up your conversation with perhaps a link to an interesting article or source of information.

  10. Enjoy! If you’re nervous of networking, you might imagine you could never enjoy the experience, but you can.  Stick with it, embrace our top tips and enjoy!

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