You know you have to network, but you dread it. You despise the idea of “working the room” and, if you’re going to invest time, you want to see results. You need to both increase your comfort level and success. But how?
Learn how to look and feel at ease in room full of people you don’t know!
The reason to network is to attract opportunities, whether it be a new job, a promotion, or to build your business. Wow! That’s a lot of pressure. What if you don’t do it “right?” What if people think you’re a sycophant or, worse yet, an ambulance chaser?
Let’s face it, you are already busy balancing work and personal life, and taking on another “to-do” is overwhelming, so you need to get results to justify the time. Let’s raise the bar a little bit—what if networking were fun!?
No More Dread; Make Networking Fun in 3 Easy Steps!
In helping clients to network in a business setting, I find that starting with these three easy steps is the best way to transform dread into success:
First, Generate a Positive Mindset. The first step is to create a powerful mindset so that you have fun and increase your chances of making a connection that matters. Ask yourself, what comes to mind as you mentally prepare for a networking event? Do you dread it? Do you tell yourself that nobody will want to talk to you, so why should you even go?
Identify exactly what you tell yourself when you consider going to a networking event. It’s probably some version of: “No one will talk to me” or “This is going to be misery, I don’t know anyone” or “I never know what to say…”
Next, replace this self-defeating mindset—and, yes, it’s just a mindset, no matter how real it feels—with an empowering mindset. Consider, “This is going to be fun!” or “I wonder who I’ll meet…” or even “This is good practice for when networking matters.”
Second, Use an Opening Strategy. Yup, all you need is to know how to start a conversation, because once you’re engaged, you generally know what to do. The easiest opening strategy is:
Smile, extend your hand, and say “Hi, my name is ________.”
Just wearing a name tag with those words is not enough!
Third, Prepare Your News Stories. This is where you deal with the fear of not knowing what to say. Don’t squander the opportunity to answer the ubiquitous, “What have you be up to?” with a total non-answer like “I’m busy” or “Same old stuff.” Instead, turn this into an opportunity to distinguish yourself and be remembered: have your own personal news story. Depending on the context and need for confidentiality, personal news stories can include: an exciting client matter; an article or book that you either read or wrote or are writing; a presentation that you gave or will give; your recent promotion; or exciting news about a child who is excelling in or sports. It can be anything interesting; the ideal “news story” demonstrates that you are excited and engaged with your work.
If you found this post helpful, share it with a friend. Want to learn more about the mechanics of networking? Download The Art of Networking and transform your networking stress into networking success! If you still have questions, reach out—we’d love to hear from you!