I get that a lot. When I tell clients that one of the key facets of their plan is meeting people, I see the dread and apprehension rise to their eyes. Introverts, especially, would rather hide at home and send online applications.
I try to break the news gently. Then I give them some tips to make it easier. I will share some of those with you! I attended a lunch-n-learn this afternoon and heard two people I greatly respect - Hannah Botkin-Doty and Chad Draheim, attorneys at Artz, Dewhirst and Wheeler - talking about this topic to a group of law students. Here's some advice from them and from me:
1. Set a goal before you go: how many people you will talk to, how many cards you will collect. When you meet the goal, you're free to go.
2. Ask the other person some questions about them. People love to talk about themselves. And they probably will ask you questions about yourself.
3. Save the cards you collect and write on each a few notes about the person so you don't forget who they are! If you don't exchange cards, then get on LinkedIn right there at the event, and mutually connect.
4. Bring a friend to the event. It will help you feel less conspicuous and give you someone to default to if you find yourself standing alone for a minute.
5. Tell people you're looking for work. You don't have to shout it to the room, or even make it the first thing you say. But at some point, let it be known. Because if you don't tell people, they can't help.
6. Don't talk too long. A few minutes is enough. If you need to, jump in to thank them for the chat and tell them, "I'm going to circulate now." Then step away.
7. After the event, message the people who met. Tell them how nice it was to meet them, and suggest having coffee.
For 1:1 networking:
1. Know the person before you meet. Look them up online, find out what they do, what their interests are.
2. Start the conversation by asking what they have been up to that day, or what they thought of the football or hockey game - or some other light topic. Then let the conversation flow from that. Ask them about how they got into their current professional role.
3. Answer their questions. Talk a bit about yourself and what you've been doing. Tell them you're looking for a new role, and for any recommendations of organizations you should be involved in, or people you should know.
4. Keep the meeting to an hour or less. Afterward, thank them in person, and later, via email or with a personal mailed note (ask for their card!).
5. Keep in touch by offering value: sharing an interesting article in their field area; congratulating them on a business award or promotion; etc. Don't overdo it, but don't merely abandon the connection, either.
6. Ask them if they can let you know if they hear about any openings in your area. This could lead to news about an opening at their company! You never know...
I hope this helps! Networking can be enjoyable. And you never know where it will lead. You could help someone else as much as receiving help.