Networking can be an important part of business life depending on the role you’re in and what your career aspirations are. But for some people it can seem nerve wracking and something they’d rather avoid. Big groups of people, noisy environments and the fear of the unknown can all be reasons why some people might choose to never attend a networking event, but they may be missing out on some great opportunities.
We share our tips on overcoming those networking nerves and hope to encourage you to make the process work for you
- Plan ahead – It is always worth researching the type of event and trying to find out who will be attending. This will help you establish your approach and what you want to get from it. After all, you don’t want to waste your time and energy attending these events if you’re not getting any benefits from them. You maybe looking to raise your profile in a specific industry, you may be looking to widen your network in general or to sell your product or service. Giving yourself clear objectives to focus on will also help you remain focussed once you’re there as you’ll be thinking about these rather than what everyone else in the room is doing. By researching the attendees, you may find someone you know is attending which can make some people feel more comfortable. You might also discover someone is attending who will be a great contact and you can then keep an eye out for them on the day.
- Think about your body language – being in a room full of strangers can be intimidating, especially if you’re typically more of an introvert personality but try to portray yourself as approachable. Smile, stand up straight and make eye contact with people. This should help you spark initial conversations with people and once this happens your confidence will naturally increase. Remind yourself of your strengths and focus on the objectives you prepared ahead of the event in order to empower yourself to feel your best and keep your mind on the task at hand.
- Arrive early – there is likely to be less people at the start of the event so if you can, try and get there early. This will enable you to calm your nerves and settle in slowly before things get busier. You can also start mingling with the other early people and break the ice quickly. It is normal to have a fear of the unknown so if you can get there and overcome it sooner rather than later, you’ll quickly get into the swing of things.
- Practice your elevator pitch – networking events can be noisy and people can also move around quickly trying to chat to as many people as possible so its important you can sum up who you are and what you are offering succinctly and memorably. The key things to include when making your introductions are you name, the company you work for, your strengths and any mutual ground you may have such as clients, previous work history or topical industry news. Where appropriate exchange business cards so you can make follow up contact after the event.
- Be yourself – it’s great to have a list of do’s and don’ts to follow to help you overcome any nerves but what will set you apart the most is if you be yourself and let your personality shine through. People buy from people and building relationships is key to this. Not all networking events will be the same but neither will your clients so persevere, take time to reflect on what went well after each one and make the next one even better. You are successful in your job for a reason so remember that and allow other people to see it too.