Time for a career change? You might want to brush up on your networking skills before attempting to land a position that truly makes you jazzed to go to work every morning. Luckily, Oklahomans have groups to help you refine these skills.

“The best way to overcome shyness or anxiety is to come prepared to networking events,” says Andrea Pemberton, executive director of Tulsa Young Professionals (TYPROS). “Reach out to event coordinators before an event to ask for guest lists, and then spend some time researching LinkedIn profiles. Use this information to prioritize who you would like to meet during the event and identify some shared interests or connections.”

Pemberton goes on to explain having a shared alma mater is one definite connection. If you volunteer for a non-profit organization that is a mutual interest, be sure to mention it.

“Assuming you don’t have time to do research before an event, or find yourself in an unexpected networking opportunity, have one or two go-to questions that don’t center on what one does for a living,” says Pemberton. “People may be between jobs or even dislike their current job, which can lead to an awkward situation.”

Instead, she advises asking: “What brings you here?” Or possibly: “What is one of your passion projects right now?”

Pemberton notes both of these questions can lead to a more interesting and memorable first conversation. Check out more helpful information at typros.org.

Terrance Craft is the executive director for Oklahoma City Young Professionals (OKCYP). If you’re looking to make connections, he recommends joining a reputable networking organization such as a Chamber of Commerce or a referral group.

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“A few ways you can overcome shyness or anxiety is to remember that everyone is there for the same reason that you are – to network,” says Craft. “Before I go into a networking event, I always take a deep breath and remember that I am awesome. And other people think I am awesome. And I know people in there will think I’m awesome, too.”

Craft adds that groups such as OKCYP help young professionals meet like-minded professionals in Oklahoma City. The group also puts on events throughout the year to try to get members out of their ‘comfort zone’ by giving them first-hand experience with public speaking.

“Be yourself, that’s all it takes,” says Craft. “Oklahoma City is thriving with successful young professionals. I believe we’re all successful because we want each other to be successful. We all want you to be successful, so there’s no need to be nervous.”

Get more information on OKCYP by emailing [email protected]

Tips on Successful Networking

Be yourself
Become a recognized face at networking events in your area by attending as many as you can
Get experience with public speaking
Create and hand out business cards with your information
Craft your own website
Remember to make eye contact
Never underestimate the power of a good handshake