Ugh. You’ve decided it’s time to get out there and dive into the sea of new faces with possible job or customer leads by networking. Everyone says that “it’s not what you know, but who you know.” Right?
Certainly, networking is vital to successful careers to keep your product or services visible. Networking events can be a part of your business’ warm touch and relationship marketing efforts to grow that desired meaningful, personalized and lasting experience with prospects and customers.
But ugh. Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, networking events are hard work. Just thinking about the chit chat that’s required is exhausting. You can get interrupted, cornered by someone who is trying too hard to sell you something, stuck trying to think of something to keep the conversation moving, not to mention getting lost on your way to the location, and waiting for your turn with that elevator speech that’s being timed creating all kinds of anxiety. And wow, you’re thinking to yourself, my speech pales in comparison to the others.
This article is about how to avoid getting tangled up while networking. Consider these 5 ideas before your next scheduled networking event. Take a look…
Idea #1- Breathe. Again, breathe.
So simple and dirt cheap this breathing thing. Find the address ahead of time before you start driving. Look it up and familiarize yourself with the location. Pack your business cards to distribute. Leave in plenty of time too. It helps. Kick back and listen to some favorite music. Enjoy the ride.
The other thing…I don’t like to be late either, but it’s not the end of the world and most of the time the networking events have planned for a lot of mingling before the planned activity.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. Get there safely.
Idea #2- Focus on the other.
My favorite introductory question is, “So, how do you spend your day?” Some people jump in with a personal story and others get into the product or service they offer. I like the question because it’s focused on the other person while inviting a relational focus vs. a tell me about your service or product only focus. Try it, tell me what you think.
Idea #3- Practice your introduction in advance.
Here’s a formula for a quick, easy elevator speech. So it looks like this,
Networking Participant: “Mary, what do you do?”
Mary: Do you know how people can feel restless about work…could be a relationship, task, or even their overall mindset and be ready for a change but feel stuck about how to make it happen?
Networking Participant: Yes….well, I’ve been wanting to get my doctorate or write a book and I just haven’t started.
Mary: I help people make brave moves at work so that they can get that deep down satisfaction
Networking Participant: Really? How do you do that?
Mary: OK…tell me more about your doctorate ideas …
There we go…fun interaction that’s showcasing how coaching works with me.
Idea #4- Sidestep overly-critical analysis.
A while ago I accompanied Vicki to her 20 minute debut presentation in a casual setting with approximately 25 people. I was there to support her as she tested out her presentation.
In the audience I watched how people connected with her and the subject. There were some awkward times with the audience kind of floundering in the group activity she attempted. There was more that didn’t go well than did.
Afterwards, she mentioned the obvious disconnect and said she would rework that part for the next time. Then she smiled and said, “So Mary, how about dinner at the restaurant down the road…I hear it’s really good.”
Whoa…wait a minute I was thinking…that’s it? No moaning, groaning, self-flagellation or woulda, coulda, shouldas? Nope. She was on to the next activity.
And why not? It’s a reasonable choice to acknowledge a need to change something and move on. Vicki didn’t take it personally nor did she need to ruminate about the issue.
So, if there’s a next time for you when things don’t go the way you want, like a networking introductory 5 minute spotlight speech, acknowledge it and decide to do it differently and move on. Simple.
Or get a friend like Vicki and take her along to help. You can’t have Vicki, I’m keeping her for myself. 🙂
Idea #5- Demonstrate your appreciation.
Listen for ways to be helpful. Offer ideas. Thank people afterwards. A quick note with an article attached or another helpful idea based on what you heard the person talk about is relationship building. Feels good too. I’m a member of a networking group that has the “nice to meet you” that can be sent with a touch of a button in the organization’s software program. Adding a special line or two is easy and usually a sweet way to connect.
The takeaway is…
You can capture and release a lot of good energy and support around others for your job and business interests at networking events. If you use these ideas to help you stay tangle free for being the terrific catch that you are, you’ll have more fun too.
I’d love to know, What makes networking fun for you?
Are you ready to make those brave moves and accelerate your work satisfaction? Sign up for a Love My Work Strategy Session today. I’m ready to join your success team!