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5 Tips for Networking in Unfamiliar Terrain

We've all been there: an unfamiliar gathering, full of new faces. If you are an introvert like me, it can be especially intimidating. However, whether it's part of an interview process, onboarding into a new position or just a social gathering, there are ways to help you break the ice. 

  1. Find the commonality. Most likely you are at the networking event for a reason, whether it's for a corporation or a celebration for an individual or holiday. Find what connects you to the other people there, and start with that. 
  2. Ask questions. As a Career Counselor, I love to find out about people's occupations. Ask about their career path, what's interesting about their work and what they enjoy about it. Typically that is a neutral way to get folks to open up. 
  3. Ask for advice. People enjoy talk about their favorite restaurant, book or event. Especially if you are relatively new to the area, asking for advice can start up an engaging conversation. If you are at a large conference or meeting, let them know you are a first-timer and ask what hints they have for making the most out of the experience. Alternatively, if they are in an occupation you are aspiring to, ask them for insight on breaking into that field. 
  4. Seek out the other new additions or introverts. They will be thankful for someone to talk to and can engage in a wonderful conversation. 
  5. Be yourself. Don't feel you have to artificially raise your energy level to unrealistic heights. You can be open and engaging, but play to your strengths. If you are a great listener, ask questions. If you have unique insight into an area, then share it with new guests. 

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portrait of Dan Gomez-Palacio