Don’t keep yourself a secret! Be seen – and heard! Put your fears aside, your intimidation in the closet, and your insecurities to rest. If you want to be successful in business networking, you must put yourself out there – be engaged. Get out of your comfort zone. Be genuinely interested in the people who are there. Smile and relax. Shake hands with people. Introduce yourself.
All types of personalities – both introverted and extroverted – attend networking events. All it takes is good listening skills, good conversation, and the willingness to start building long-lasting business relationships. Feeling anxious, nervous, self-conscious, and exposed? Sorry, but you need to get over that. Proceed with confidence. My friend, Tom Hopkins says, “practice, drill and rehearse.” I say, “practice does not make you perfect, it makes you much better!”
There are several people that you always want to be sure to network with at an event: the speaker (if any), the event host/organizer, and the person doing registration and sign-in. Why? Because they see and usually know who is there and who it is important to hang out with. Make sure they know who you are – from the beginning of the event. Get involved. Participate.
“The physical act of walking into the event may be the hardest part, especially if you don’t know a soul. So take a deep breath, stand tall, and walk into the center of the room, rather than stopping just inside the door to clog traffic or bee-lining for a dark corner.” ~ Susan RoAne, author of “How to Work a Room“
When you enter an event, never head straight for the bar, the buffet, or your seat. It’s best to eat before you arrive so you can devote all your time to making yourself known. By not eating you won’t talk with your mouth full. By not drinking alcohol, you won’t stumble over your words or end up with a lampshade on your head. Have a Pepsi. Hold it in your left hand so when you shake hands you won’t have to apologize for your cold hand. Image and how you present yourself is high on the list of things you must learn to manage when networking.
You must develop a strategy for being seen at networking events. Hang out by the door. Watch who enters. Read name tags. Look for people you have want to connect with. Do something to really stand out. To make an even bigger splash, offer to present at an event. Never be pushy or arrogant to be seen or be heard. Think outside the box. Demonstrating your creatively is often a good call.
If given the opportunity to introduce yourself – do it with pizazz. Don’t be ordinary. Be extra-ordinary! Up the ante – jazz up your “30 second” connection. Focus on your Unique Selling Point (USP) – it is what sets you and your business — or you as an individual — apart from your competition. It can be an actual fact or a perceived difference or specialty. Every networker needs one.
“Observe people you consider to be good shmoozers. Note what behaviors are effective and try to add them to your skill set. The art here is to still be yourself at the same time. Think of it as an adjustment to your approach rather than a complete redo.” ~ Mark Meshulam
It is important to not sell your services or products or talk about them in an effort to be seen. Hmmm. Ignore this and you are on your way to becoming a nuisance. This turns people off. It’s the wrong kind of attention you want. The only thing you should be selling is yourself.
“My advice is to start networking to get noticed, but remember that (at first), no one cares about you. It’s a harsh reality but I’m willing to bet that aside from your family or significant other, no one–not your boss, colleagues or friends–are staying up late thinking, “I wonder how I can help Julie make more money, find new customers, grow her biz…” If you want it, you have to make it happen. ~ Bryan Elliott
Never go up to others at a networking and start talking of all your amazing achievements – you should be able to spin this through a conversation that ideally starts with a question. Learn to come across as intellectually curious in others. If you really want to call attention to yourself, ask other people a little bit about themselves… and really listen!
Copyright © 2012 – Larry James. From the chapter, “Be Coachable!” in Larry’s latest book, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”
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