Do you shy away from networking events because you are too nervous and feel too awkward to talk about yourself to strangers? After all, our parents did tell us not to talk to strangers. Networking can be the best way for you to meet new potential clients and teach the community about your business. I can be shy at networking events but then I remind myself that someone, somewhere out there needs what I offer. My products and services could quite possibly change their lives for the better.
If you go to networking events and stand in the corner looking at your phone, then you need to read this. Don’t leave money on the table because you are too afraid of what others may think. These are my tips and reminders for effective networking.
First and foremost, remember that EVERYONE is nervous! Most people are too busy being worried about what YOU may think of THEM rather than what they really think of you. I once took a course about confidence. The instructor talked about how we tend to not like people that we think don’t like us but really they are only thinking about themselves and if you like them. Before you walk into a networking event, remind yourself that everyone is going through life’s struggles and negative self-talk. Therefore, if you can be a kind, warm person, then you will put both of you at ease.
Talk about what you love most then the conversation will flow naturally. Not only will this help you feel more comfortable but showing your true authentic self will allow you to build strong relationships. I have said this before; businesses are built on relationships. You are more likely to build a loyal group of consumers if you build the foundation of “know, like, trust”. This will also help you come across as human and not “salesy” when its time to talk business.
Be genuinely interested in what the other networkers have to say. The best way to do that is through sincere, thoughtful questions. This serves as a bonus because people not only like people who seem interested in them but they also like to talk about themselves. Actually, this has a triple bonus! When you ask them questions, they are doing more of the talking; thus, taking the pressure off you.
Be cognizant of your body language and facial expressions. I almost discounted one woman because when I greeted her, she looked at me with such disgust that I felt like going into a corner and sulking. People will always remember how you make them feel and not exactly what you say. Communicating an open body language with a soft smile will make you more approachable. Make eye contact and remain focused on them. This will show you respect them. When you are respectful, people like you more and find it easier to connect with you.
Allow someone to ask for your business card rather than just handing them out to everyone. Not only will this save you money on unwanted business cards but it will show others that you are there for more than just pushing your business. This also help qualify your prospect. Bonus tip: Trying using this technique when someone asks you for a business card. Say: “(Prospect name), I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you. If I hand you my card, I want to make sure we do indeed connect either by phone or email. You wouldn’t leave me hanging, would ya?” Most likely they will say no they won’t leave you hanging because almost everyone suffers from the “disease to please.” Plus you allow them to get their first “no” to you out of the way. You will know based off their reaction if they are someone worth pursuing a business relationship with.
Lastly, take charge and stand out as a servant leader by introducing people. If you meet Jane and you are talking to her for a few minutes then John comes and introduces himself to you, ask if he knows Jane and introduce them to each other. Then tell him something interesting about Jane that she has told you to show them both that you listen AND you care. This will help you build immediate rapport and help you remember name and details. People just want to be heard and know you care.
Networking doesn’t have to be awkward or a waste of time if you practice these simple techniques. After a few rounds of these tips, you will be a networking pro and will see your business grow exponentially!