Networking Events and How to Avoid Putting Your Foot in Your Mouth
Breakfast meetings. Retreats. Golf games. Galas. Board meetings. There’s a million ways to network. But for some, the thought of networking makes them green around the gills or has left them with their foot in their mouth. I’ve had people call me from the washroom as they were hiding out, too uncomfortable to network. It’s all about nerves, managing that energy, and having confidence in yourself to have conversations with strangers or clients. So how do you manage these situations? Here’s a few tips to help make your next networking event a little easier.
You should be able to introduce yourself and clearly explain your business and your role. Create a networking pitch. It’s a short, simple statement. For example, “Hi, I’m Ronnie Walsh. I’m the co-owner of Nine Island Communications. We help businesses with communications strategies and video marketing.”
It’s like getting ready for a big game. Get your mind in it and have a game plan. Try to find the excitement or happiness in being in a room with other entrepreneurs or business professionals. Remember: Deep breaths before you go into an event will help.
Show interest in others
If you’re in a conversation that seems to be going nowhere think about what’s important to the person you’re talking to. Ask them about what they do or how long they’ve been doing it; ask their thoughts on the event or what value they get out of being there. See where I’m going with this? Be a good listener. Take an interest in them and take the heat off yourself.
Bring a Buddy
You can bring a lifeline – a buddy or your business partner, to add to the conversation, help you get out of conversations, or be the main person you talk to until you settle in. Before you go to the event, talk about the ‘signals’ you’ll give if you’re struggling in a conversation and how your buddy can help.
Join a Group Discussion
If you’re attending events on your own join a group discussions. There may be someone you met previously that you could reintroduce yourself to.
Being authentic helps to build trust with others. So, don’t think you “have to be somebody”, just be yourself. Share a personal story or two (nothing to shocking though). Being yourself is the key to winning hearts, minds, and future clients.
Keep these things in mind each time you step into a networking event. It gets easier every time you put yourself out there.
These networking events aren’t to find your next best friend. It’s business. So try starting from that point – it’s a business transaction.