A connection that opens new doors can be priceless.
“I’m no good at networking or I don’t like going into a crowded room full of strangers” is something that we all often hear. If that’s how you feel, be encouraged – nobody was born with perfect networking skills. If others can learn, so can you!
Think of networking as a life skill, it’s not something you only do when you want something, the best networkers keep their eyes and ears open for opportunities to advance other people’s interests whenever they can. Networkers who are high achievers are not born with these skills, it take time and practice and it isn’t a complicated process, anyone can improve their networking skills with a plan of action, but most importantly you must be able to trust your referral partner and in return they must be able to trust you, it is a long-term strategy rather than a short-term goal.
Here are six ways you can get over your fear of networking:
- 1. Don’t go on your own. Come along to a Thrive networking meeting with a friend or as a guest – it’s so much easier to walk into that room if someone is genuinely pleased to see you or waiting for you.
- 2. Attend structured events first, to allow you to get the most out of networking. Thrive is a professional culture for business but also allows you to be yourself and to get to know, like and trust the other people in the room.
- 3. Don’t even try to sell. Instead, think of some interesting questions you can ask the other participants: ‘What other networking do you do?’ ‘Is this area a good place to do business?’ are the openers to real conversations that will make you forget you were ever nervous in the first place. Of course, there’s the good ice-breaker of discussing the food – something everyone’s got an opinion about!
- 4. Use Twitter or LinkedIn to make some sort of connection with other networkers before you go. You can introduce yourself before you even get to the meeting if you’ve connected to someone via LinkedIn or by following on Twitter these make such great ice-breakers.
- 5. Make sure you’ve got a rough idea of what you are going to say in your elevator pitch. Concentrate on 2 or 3 benefits of your business and if necessary just jot these down on a piece of paper. Don’t be tempted to read your script or ramble on too much, 45 seconds of precise information is better than 2 or 3 minutes of digressive chatter – everyone always appreciates a bit of brevity and they are more likely to remember what you’ve said. Reading from a script can make you more nervous, so practice what you want to say before you arrive. This should take the pressure off you to somehow ‘perform’ which is not what Thrive is about.
- 6. Finally, think business relationships rather than sales pitches and be patient when you’re building your referral network, during tough times a referral that opens new doors can be priceless, networking is more about building connections over time than it is about quick results.
The networking world is open to everyone, without exclusion, if your networking values are strong, ethical and transparent you got nothing to loose. Many people think that networking is something that you do – wrong! Networking is a way of living. The best advice is just to dive in, have a go and enjoy.