When you think of attending a networking event, do you suffer from an attack of “minglephobia” of fear of networking? Some people thoroughly enjoy these opportunities to mix and mingle with business clients and potential customers. They welcome the chance to meet and talk with total strangers. Other people would rather schedule a root canal than face a room of people whom they barely know.
Here are a few tips to help you deal with the fear of networking and turn each one of these events into a profitable experience.
- Understand what networking is not. It is not about seeing how many hands you can shake or how many business cards you can collect.
- Understand what networking is. It is an opportunity to connect with people and build your business relationships.
- To be a successful networker, you need to know who will be attending the event. If you can’t get names, at least know which organizations will be represented.
- Plan in advance what you will talk about. Have specific topics in mind for those people whom you plan to see.
- Be prepared with a least three subjects you can discuss with anyone, whether they are strangers or people whom you already know. The best way to do this is to be up to date on current events. If you can’t make conversation, you can’t make connections.
- Listen more than you talk. People enjoy talking about themselves so give them the opportunity. You will learn more by listening, and the people you meet will think you are a great conversationalist.
- Arrive on time so you can become comfortable with the venue and be able to meet people as they arrive. If you join an event already underway, it will be more difficult to join conversations.
- Have plenty of your business cards with you and have them readily accessible. The person who has to fumble for a business card appears unprepared and unprofessional.
- Have a follow up plan for those people with whom you’d like to create or maintain a business relationship. As soon as you get back to your office, look at those business cards and decide whether you want to call someone, send an email or invite a person to lunch.
The successful networkers always attend events with confidence and assurance. They have a plan of action and a goal of growing their business by connecting with people face to face. Social media is no substitute for a personal encounter.
Here’s to overcoming your fear of networking!
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