It takes one to know one. I hope that my insights as someone who struggles with networking help you!
Networking is a bit of a nightmare for me. I feel awkward walking into a room of people and introducing myself to strangers. I fear that people won’t want to talk to me, which is kind of silly if I am at a networking event, but nonetheless it is the feeling I get and it can be gripping. I am also more of an introvert than an extrovert and I find it extremely draining to put out enough social energy to be able to survive a networking scenario. Literally two nights out and I am at home knitting like a hermit to recover!
Networking is a necessary evil of sorts. It is a great way to meet like-minded people and new people. Especially in my situation, stepping out beyond the athlete world, I am building a new tribe of people and network in my hometown and searching for my next calling. It is not easy, but I am pushing through because I believe it is beneficial and it has already proven to be with some really great new people that have come into my life recently.
You can do it too!
Here are 10 ways to change your perspective and or helpful hints to make it easier!
1) This one is the most important! Take the pressure off! Getting out to learn and meet new people is a great step. You don’t have to meet everyone in the room. If you leave having met one new great contact, that is a win!
2) Everyone feels a little apprehensive. Take it upon yourself to make others comfortable. Helping people will take the your mind of overthinking yourself.
3) Be genuine and take time with each person. I get the sense that some people are on a mission to meet the who’s who of the event and that is a skeezy way to be and people like that never end up winning. Remember that one genuine contact is better than 10 fake contacts. More is not always better.
4) Ask people questions. It’s ok to start with a simple “how are you?” This can the lead to how they heard about the event and or what brings them out. In general, once they get going, people are comfortable talking about themselves.
5) Sometimes conversations start to take over your time, but don’t panic and start looking around the room. Excuse yourself to go to the washroom and or grab a drink. Thank the person for their time just in case you don’t see them again.
5) Open body language. It is important to be looking up and at people, not at the ground and or at your phone. I am the not the best at this. I think I give off the – don’t talk to me vibe. It is something I have to work on. It is heightened when I am nervous and or my energy is low, so I have to be aware and I am working on it.
7) Have professional business cards to share. It is a great way to share more information about yourself and your business. If you don’t have one you might be hard to contact and or you might be forgotten all together.
8) Follow up with the great new people that you meet. Especially if you want to do business and or keep in touch. Reaching out is a great way to keep the momentum going.
9) Don’t be offended if you don’t hear back. This is another one I have had to work on. People are busy. They don’t always have time to respond to emails and or to bring anyone else into their lives. It is still a good practice and you never know when it will lead to a lasting relationship and or another connection in the future.
10) Most importantly, just do it! One way to make networking easier is to network more. Especially in a small city like Vancouver, there are a lot of the same faces out and about. The more you go out, the more you will start to see the same people and you will get used to networking in general.
Champion Mindset Quote: It is progress, not perfection that leads to performance!