The truth is most people hate networking. The image alone is scary. Lots of people, big room full of strangers, and you must meet them. Yep, I used to feel the same way! But wait?
Let’s go back to my premise for Connect for Life. Remember the series is connecting, marketing, and selling. The practice of networking is just one of your marketing practices. All you are doing is solving problems and making friends. That’s it. So, the idea is to find your way with networking so you can expand the reach of your brand beyond just events.
Overcome Your Networking Handicap
True confessions! I have a networking handicap. When I was 12, in a period of one week, my hair fell out. I know girls, puberty and everyone is staring. Especially, when I went into a large room! So that fear, of large rooms has followed me all my life.
However, I truly believe fear and faith cannot occupy the same space at the same time. So where do most networking events happen? Large Rooms. Right!
Manage Fear & Make It Fun
I developed five helpful tactics that manage fear and make it fun and enjoyable.
1. Less is more.
If I walk out of a meeting having met two or three people and exchanged of a good idea, I win.
2. There are others like you.
Look for the friendly eyes and put your hand out to make a friend. These people want to meet a friendly person too, not a blowhard.
3. Have substantial conversations.
As you meet people, try to peel off and have a more substantial conversation. I find if you take interest in them, asking open ended questions, you will enjoy the conversation and your new friend will be at ease.
4. Memorize your rap.
Know when you are going to say when they ask, “what do you do?” Or “tell me about Connect for Life?” If you have not memorized your rap, you will stutter and stammer.
5. Always go!
I always would rationalize why I didn’t need to go. It’s too far, raining, traffic bla bla bla. I decided early on to go so I went. Every time, without a doubt, when driving home, I had found a nugget or two that made the whole thing worth it.
Authenticity is Key
Remember, you are building long-term relationships so being authentic is critical! Put networking into your marketing game plan and track your points. After all, engaging in social media, attending zooms, writing content – these are all about putting your personal brand out there.
Take a step. Make a friend. Don’t be afraid. There are others like you. It will be worth it.