Sometimes it feels scary to think about the future. Sometimes it feels intimidating to socialize with people in authoritative positions. However, these individuals can often advise us on how to secure the futures that we want. Networking with the people who share our passions, especially with the ones who have already fulfilled our career goals, is a useful and rewarding way to pave a road to success and find joy along the ride.
But how do we eliminate the fear factor of networking? To gain so more insight on this, I met with Diane Beliveau, an Executive Presentation Instructor and Communications & Human Relations Instructor in the D.C. metro area. During our meeting, she gave advice on how to establish and maintain a positive image. Beliveau is a professional social coach you can hire through Dale Carnegie Training. There are Carnegie Centers all throughout America with people like her, who you can meet with for your own help sessions based on the philosophies of the popular book How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.
Let’s lay this fear on the table though. As excited I was to meet with Diane, I can’t deny that daunting sense of competition that comes with thinking about correct social cues. This feeling of intimidation is reinforced by CarnegieÊ¼s title, which places an emphasis on making “friends,” an emphasis that feels backhanded by the suggestion that you can “win” and “influence people.” Are we just superficially making friends for our potential benefit when it comes to networking?
This is where being genuine and staying genuine is key. Beliveau encourages us to focus on using her advice to create honest, meaningful, and mutually beneficial relationships. Her lessons cushion the road to finding success through friendship and encourage us to approach career fairs and job interviews as what they really are: opportunities to meet with wise leaders who can help us with their experience and relevant connections.
“One of the most difficult things that people can do is walk into a room full of new people and have self confidence and a smile on their face because most people are too concerned with what everyone else is thinking,” Beliveau says. Truly, How to Win Friends and Influence Peopleis a book that highlights an act as simple as making friends as the golden path to the success that you are in search of. This is the message that should inspire each of us.
So here are the lessons I took away from my time with Beliveau, all of which become inescapably beneficial when put to use with a genuine heart behind them:
1. Body Language: A smile is universal for “hello” and for “you are welcome here.” How you carry yourself when you walk into a room precedes you. Make yourself approachable by smiling, making direct eye contact, using open positioning with unfolded hands, and maintaining a relaxed facial expression. In doing so, you present an air of confidence that can speak profoundly and positively about you.
2. Dress For Success: The old quote, “It is always better to overdress than underdress” still applies. You always want to be on par or one notch above the people you are meeting with- not in an arrogant way, but in a way that says you want to be taken seriously. When we underdress we may be implying that our attitude is casual and so we should take care to choose clothes that suggest the situation is important to us
3. Be Honest: Once you have made a connection, be genuinely interested in the other person so that you speak less often and ask more questions.The direction of your conversation will change as the spotlight turns to them and as you make the other person feel important.
4. Act Courageously: All of us have fears, but when we boldly face our fears we realize the reality of the situation; Dale Carnegie teaches that at least 85-90 percent of what we worry about never happens.
5. Use Connections: LinkedIn and Facebook are useful resources for accessing the right people who you might not even realize you know. Take advantage of all the people in front of you through social media, friends, and friends of friends, because we never know whom we might know unless we ask.
Meeting with Diane was a valuable experience. Beyond outstanding charisma and a beautiful sense of purpose, she teaches that at the core of social etiquette lies an innate human desire to connect. This inherent need penetrates people’s fears but also their hearts, so that coming to a meeting with confidence, courage, and compassion is what can and will enable the kind of career success which we all hope and dream for. Good luck and try to have fun with it my fellow college friends.