Since we’re on a roll here, let’s continue this series on networking.
I’ve heard from so many people that they really dislike face-to-face networking. It makes them feel intimidated and uncomfortable and they just don’t want to do it. This made me wonder: how can we turn the tables, flip the switch, and think differently about networking.
I came up with five simple steps to make a game out of it – to actually make it fun. So here are some tips, tricks and techniques to try. Now remember, the key word here is “try.” Pick and choose the techniques that are right for you and your personality. I’m going to challenge you, though, to step out of your comfort zone – that is the only way you will grow.
So here we go…
1. Get to the networking event early. This may sound really simple, but many people show up in time for the speaker, then leave immediately after. That is NOT networking. By getting to the event early, you will feel less intimidated because there are fewer people there. Then you can really focus on who you want to meet and start a conversation with.
2. Don’t tell yourself “no”. Many times my inner voice starts screaming: “no one wants to meet you, you have nothing of value to offer, no one will listen to you…” If this ever happens to you, STOP and hit the delete button!!! There are enough people out there already telling you “no” so don’t become one of them. Instead choose your three greatest attributes and repeat them to yourself over and over again.
3. If it feels comfortable to you, wear something that stands out. I often wear my red boots because people will compliment me on my boots. It’s a great conversation starter. Anyone can wear something that’s a little different – maybe a different colored shirt or tie or blouse. It will make you stand out from the crowd. Try it and see if it works for you.
4. Smile. It’s a powerful show of confidence which people respect and are drawn to. Smiles are contagious and the simple act of smiling makes people feel better. No matter who you’re approaching, there is no stronger opener.
5. Remember the #1 rule – LISTEN. Meeting people is about making their lives better. Whether you give them a smile, a new job or anything in between, there is a way to help everyone. Listen and learn about what matters to them. People want to tell their stories. Be the person who is excited to hear them.
I encourage you to try all five techniques. After all, how do you know which ones will work best if you don’t test them? Let me know if you have a favorite.
Now go out there an have some fun networking!