How to turn your next chance encounter into a career opportunity

10 September 2018 | Careers Advice | Guest Author

We all want to find new career opportunities that will help us grow. But sitting at home and searching for new jobs only gets you so far – networking plays a huge part in the process. The people you meet and know in the business world can make all the difference to your career.

Sometimes the biggest career opportunities arise out of chance encounters that you didn’t expect. It’s up to you to make the most of the encounters that happen in your life. Wondering how to go about this? Read the following tips to make your next encounter count.

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

If you’re a naturally shy person, it can be a real challenge to put yourself out there and seize new career opportunities. All you can do is get as much practice at this as you can. Try to get out of your comfort zone on a daily basis. For instance, instead of staring at your phone on your daily commute, make an effort to initiate casual conversation with the person next to you. Talk to them about their lives and career, and your own. While not every encounter is going to be life-changing, there’s always a chance it could lead to a new friendship or even a business relationship. Try to push yourself to talk to new people as often as you can, even if it’s in line at the supermarket. The more you do this, the more comfortable you will become at initiating conversations with strangers. In time, you will find that your networking skills improve in the business world.

Put Yourself in the Right Places

To meet the right people and form new relationships, you have to put yourself in the right situations. Events, workshops and conferences are always a great place to build your network of contacts. Research how to register for local events that are related to your industry and are currently in your area. Sign up and show up to as many conferences as you can. Try to approach both new and familiar faces. Carefully learn their names, get to know their personalities and find out about their area of expertise. Make sure to carry your business card with you, just in case they’re interested in staying in touch.

Always Be Ready

You never know when you might meet someone who could change the course of your career. Imagine stumbling upon your dream client, or walking into a room with the CEO of the company you’ve always admired. In these situations, it’s always best to be fully prepared with an elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is basically a short summary of what you do. Having a memorable 40-second presentation ready can really help pave the way for new career opportunities.

But it’s essential that you go about your elevator pitch in the right way. When you begin your pitch, you don’t want to sound boastful or give off the wrong impression. Instead of just listing your accomplishments, talk about what you’re working on, or something you’re planning to work on in the future. Remember to keep the pitch short and maintain eye contact throughout. When you’re done, turn the conversation back on them and show a genuine interest in what they do. By the end of the encounter, they should know just enough about you that will motivate them to stay in touch. End the conversation by exchanging contact information. Just like that, you’ve planted the seed for a new relationship that could lead to something greater.

After making the switch from corporate to freelance writing, Johanna Cider has produced articles for various sites and blogs on a diverse range of topics including business, career, and lifestyle. To read more about Johanna and her published work, check out her Tumblr page.

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