It takes a certain kind of person enjoys networking — and I mean that in the best way. Being good at it requires lacking enough self-consciousness to get out there and talk to people, but having enough self-awareness to make the experience a positive one for the other party as well. You don't want the interaction to feel transactional, but you don't want to waste your time, or someone else's, either.
The process can be a little terrifying if you tend to be a wallflower. Still, it's incredibly difficult, if not outright impossible, to move along without insight, support, and collaboration from others in your industry: Your career can't grow in a vacuum.
If networking gives you any kind of anxiety, or you're just looking for ways to improve those moments, start by reframing how you think of it.
"I've always approached networking as barely indistinct from just being a person in the world," says Anastasia Alt, the founder of career services platform Dream Space.
Seeing the other person as just another person is probably a good start! Remembering that they may be just as nervous to meet you, as you are to talk to them, can take some of the pressure off. After that, the rest is a matter of being as thoughtful and strategic as you would be otherwise. Here's the step-by-step guide to make networking really work for you — even if it's not your favorite thing.