Last week I attended my first networking event in months.
Below is my colleague Dana who was the event’s speaker.
I had a grand old time.
And yet networking doesn’t come easily to me despite years of doing it. And I suspect you feel the same way.
The truth is that networking is a powerful way to make new connections and to grow your business WHEN approached correctly.
If networking has felt like a “necessary evil”, you’re shy or you’ve had poor experiences in the past, don’t let that stop you.
Over the years I have learned some mindset and tactical tools to make networking enjoyable. Check them out below:
YOUR MINDSET IS EVERYTHING
1. Have FUN and make new friends: This mindset changed everything for me. Don’t attend a networking event to “get” new clients or with a specific tactical goal. Just go to have fun. Think of it as a mixer, a cocktail event and a way to meet potential new friends, colleagues and to stay open to possibilities. Set your intention, lower your defenses and then allow the event to flow as it will.
2. Just show up: It’s just like going to the gym. Once you’re there, you’ve won 80% of the battle. When I’m really tempted to bail on an event, I just tell myself to show up and it gets me there and I’m always happy I showed up.
3. Make it all about THEM: This one’s BIG! So much of the anxiety of networking is because we are worried about how others will perceive us.
And what if you make it about getting to know someone else, asking them questions, staying curious and focusing on THEM?
When you take the focus (and the pressure) off of you, you’ll naturally have more fun and be attractive to other people. This is a sure fire way to get out of your head and back into your body.
A few quality connections are far better than several superficial ones. People crave connection so connect!
4. They are just people: Remember that most people at the event are uncomfortable, feeling awkward and trying their best just like you. So when you connect with them, connect with them as a HUMAN, not as a potential client or by what they DO alone.
AT THE EVENT: INTRODUCING YOURSELF AND MAKING CONNECTIONS
1 . Start the conversation with a fun and inviting question:
When you meet someone, instead of the dreaded and boring “what do you do?” Why not ask someone:
- What are you loving about your life right now?
- What’s going awesome in your business?
- What made you get into your line of work?
If they are wearing an accessory or something you admire, then mention that and ask questions as an ice-breaker.
Keep the conversation light and upbeat. Again – treat them as a person and aim to establish a connection vs trying to get your elevator pitch right.
2. Keep your introduction short and sweet. Perhaps start with a 1 liner that makes people want to learn more:
For example: I help women entrepreneurs feel radiant and have more energy.
Then you can go into a bit more detail. But don’t share your life story or go into the process and major details of your work. It’s just too much.
Less is more – REALLY.
3. Be yourself: Have you ever entered a room and just felt drawn to a particular person? They haven’t said a word and there’s something about them that just magnetizes you to them?
The secret is that they are BEING themselves. It’s their energy that speaks to you.
So when you are out sharing your brilliance, just BE more of you and focus on the OTHER PERSON versus how you will be perceived. Our perception of ourselves is always much harsher than other people’s
4. You’re awesome: Before leaving the house, remember how awesome you are. If you need to get dressed up or put on a pretty shade of lipstick to feel good, then do it. I think that your appearance matters, more importantly so that you feel confident about yourself, and then remember that your energy and who you are being speaks volumes.
Follow-up: I am amazed how many peoples don’t follow up with me after a networking event. And yet that’s where the magic gets solidified.
Reach out to your connection ideally within 48 hours when you are still top of mind.
Make a note on the person’s business card of your follow-up or create a short follow-up list so you zip through it when you get home.
And as good etiquette, don’t invite people to add people to your newsletter list or a Facebook group without their consent or without building enough of a connection with them first.
Again – build the relationship organically and get to know them and their needs.
And above all, keep it simple and practice the golden rule.
Finally, don’t overwhelm yourself with too many networking groups.
Try out a few for a couple of times and then narrow down to a few that you enjoy and then you can always add a new one that sparks your interest as you go along.
You choose how this goes and how much fun you can have making new friends.