I often speak at networking events and so I am writing this blog in mind of those who are perhaps a little anxious or don’t know what to expect at networking meetings. I am really excited about a new networking event, the Hour of Power, taking place next month so I would like to make sure that everyone is happy to come along and work that room, baby!
Why bother with networking? If you’re looking to succeed and sell to other people there will always be a need to connect with others. Yes, networking involves “work” but this can get to a stage, with my 4 tips below, where it becomes an every day habit that isn’t really “work”!
How do you feel when you attend a networking event? What do think when you enter the room? Who do you approach first? Where do you stand? Do you talk to many people or just a few? Networking can sometimes bring back those feelings of being at school –a little bit of excitement that is overwhelmed by the anxiety of putting your foot in your mouth! It doesn’t have to be that way! You’re no longer a teenager, so GET RID of those niggling doubts and take control of what you want to happen when networking in a room full of possibilities and opportunities. So, let’s start WORKING on those things so you can leave a networking event with optimism and a sense of achievement.
As Richard Branson tells it:
“Business is all about personal contact. No matter how heavy your workload is… everyone can and should be a networker.”
So, how can you reduce the “work” element of networking so that it becomes something you are so successful at that you forget there is any “work” involved?
Think of yourself as an actor or actress on stage in the local theatre where you see a mix of familiar faces as well as strangers. Preparation is key- fail to prepare and you prepare to fail. So here are the ultimate 4 steps on working that room, baby!
- Act. Walk up to the mirror and look at the way you hold your shoulders and head. Study your body language as you walk around or stand in one place. Do you exude confidence? I’m not asking you to shimmy along like Beyoncé or to stomp around like Sylvester Stallone, instead find the natural confident you – lift your shoulders back and hold your head up high to notice an instant change! Practise your stance and your look until you see the epitome of confidence looking back at you; and…smile!
- Put on your clothes. This does not mean that you’ve been naked for the whole of step no.1!! Instead, rehearse in the clothes that you will wear. What do your clothes say about you? When we meet people for the first time we take in what they physically look like and make a snap judgement – it’s not to say that that judgement is right but is the first and lasting impression! What will people think of your clothes, your shoes and your hair? This first impression gives others signals as to what our style is – or not – so think about the signals you send out. Look at your image and… smile!
- Practise your lines. Have a number of good “opening lines” to break the ice. Get rid of all fears of rejection and change your mind set. If you’ve turned up, then you’ve conquered the biggest risk of rejection, so get rid of those others fears and start thinking about all the rewards you can get from meeting people and discussing business. Have a way of introducing yourself that makes a lasting positive impression. Never be afraid to introduce yourself or to ask others their name when you join a conversation. Everyone is there to network so it is expected that people will walk up to others and say hello. Rehearse what else you will talk about – what will you say about yourself and your work? What will you ask others? Don’t think of it as an interview but as a chat that you are having with your friends in a workplace setting – be professional, polite and friendly. Sometimes those pesky nerves can get in the way of our personality shining through. So bust those nervous feelings right now and… smile!
- Be interested. It’s not all about being interesting! Ask powerful questions that mean you want to hear what others are saying. For example:What social media platforms do you use so I can find out a bit more about you/ your company? Can you tell me more about ___________? What do you mean by_______? Pay genuine compliments. Exchange business cards, thank people for speaking to you and… smile!
Pease do come along to Hour of Power – a women’s networking on Thursday 1st May 12:00 – 2:00pm with Sally Hudson at the Castlefield Rooms, Castlefield, M3 4 LZ.
Book and pay for your place here.
Look forward to meeting you. Please do come and say hello, particularly if it is your first time networking.
If you’ve got any tips to share please leave a comment.