Networking 101: 3 steps to banish networking nerves

Whether you’re introducing yourself to a group of people or just one person at a networking event, nerves can get the better of you, with the first impression you leave, unfortunately being less than memorable or compelling.

Being anxious and unprepared when it comes to networking and building relationships with prospective clients, referral partners, and other key stakeholders can be detrimental to the growth of your business.

In the last few weeks I’ve spoken to a number of business owners who admitted they all dreaded the thought of having to attend networking events.

Not only did they fear having to introduce themselves to the entire room of people, the thought of approaching a complete stranger and having to strike up a meaningful conversation with him/her – terrified them.

Can you relate?

Are your nerves getting the better of you so you end up doing any (or all) of the 5 things you should NOT do during your introduction at a networking event?

Being able to introduce yourself in a clear, concise and compelling way so people want to learn more about you and the work you do is crucial to the success of your business.

Here are 3 key steps to help you get over your nerves so that you can make a great first impression and begin to build relationships with potential clients, referral partners, and joint venture partners the next time you attend a networking event.

1. Be mindful of your mindset

Are you fuelling the fire and increasing your fear, doubt, and nerves because of what you’re telling yourself?

You become what you believe.

If you believe:

  • “I’m going to make a mistake…”
  • “I’m going to forget what I want to say…”
  • “I’m not good at speaking in public…”
  • “I never speak well in front of an audience…”
  • “I’m going to make a fool of myself…”

…guess what – you probably will.

One of my mentors once told me “We seek out the evidence that will prove our belief is true.”

If you think you will make a mistake, or forget your words, or that you struggle to speak in front of an audience, you will seek out the evidence that proves this belief is true.

Time to be mindful of your mindset.

  • What are you telling yourself that is unhelpful and not supporting you in your networking endeavours?
  • What can you tell yourself instead that will be more helpful and support you as you continue to network, speak in front of a crowd and/or strike up a conversation with strangers?

2. Be prepared

Winging your introduction and ‘going with the flow’ is unwise, especially if nerves tend to get the better of you.

Alexander Graham Bell was right when he said:

There are three things you should have prepared and ready to go before you attend your next networking event.

  1. YOUR INTRODUCTION

This includes who you are, what you do, and the solution you offer to help your ideal client go from stuck to unstoppable.

Remember, to make an impact, your introduction should be focused on the needs of your client and how you can help them.

What’s in it for them?

  1. YOUR INFORMATION

After you’ve piqued people’s curiousity, it’ll often prompt the phrase: “Tell me more…”

What you say next can either open the door to an opportunity, or not.

Be prepared to share more information about your work, how you can help people, followed by a success story of a former client you’ve worked with to confirm your promise of value.

The information you share should continue to seed and showcase the success and results you offer to continue building interest in your work.

  1. YOUR INVITATION

Networking is all about building relationships.

Your invitation should be a call to action that will enable you to continue building a relationship with your new contact outside of the networking event.

Once someone has shown an interest in learning more about you, your invitation can include:

  • Meeting for coffee and finding out more about each other to see whether opportunities for future business together;
  • Giving them access to some of your resources (i.e. articles, podcasts, your Irresistible Signature Giveaway, etc.) so they can learn more about your work;
  • A follow up phone call to discuss potential joint ventures;
  • And the list goes on.

Plan your invitation and be ready to suggest this if the opportunity arises and you’ll soon see your network, your relationships, AND your opportunities expand.

3. Be curious

Unsure what to say when approaching a stranger at a networking meeting to break the ice?

Take on the approach of being curious, and you’ll be fine.

People love to speak about themselves.

You’re at a networking event so extend an invitation for them to share more about their work is a great way for you to start the conversation.

For example:

YOU: “Hi, I’m [your name]. So, tell me – what do you do?”

Then let them speak.

Be curious, and interested in what they say.

The opportunity to share information about you and what you do, is often reciprocated.

As David Ogilvy so aptly put it:
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Be curious and interested in what they have to say – and you’ll get an opportunity to speak about you and your work too.

And last but not least…just be yourself.

Don’t try to be someone you’re not.

It’ll show.

WomanSpeaking Want to learn how to create a memorable 30-second introduction that will WOW the audience and have people wanting to know more about you, along with powerful public speaking and presentation skills?

Join me on my one-day ‘Network and Communicate With Confidence’ Workshop. Find out more by clicking on the Join Me button below.

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Question: How do you feel about networking? Do you love it? Or do you get nervous? What has helped you build your confidence? Leave your comment below.

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