Woman at Networking Event

Photo credit: Jodi Womack via Foter.com / CC BY

Guest Post by Lori Saitz of The Quiet Girl’s Guide

There you are, standing at the doorway of the event, looking around nervously. Should you go in? Run away? Everyone looks like they’re already involved in a conversation, and you don’t want to intrude. Maybe you’ll go call your dentist and schedule a root canal; it’ll be more fun than this!

If attending networking events is painful for you, understand that NOT developing connections can be even MORE excruciating.  It’s easy to think (or hope) you can skip in-person events and simply build your business through online relationships. But in reality, you live in a world with other humans. And humans are still wired to connect interpersonally. Which means your business success depends on you managing your fear of networking, going out and having face-to-face conversations as you develop relationships with those other humans.

Here are three tips to make your networking experiences easier.

  1. Flip the Script

Instead of thinking of networking as shallow chit-chat and people shoving business cards in your hand asking if you need a new copy machine, redefine it. Take the approach that you’re there to make a new friend.

It’s not very often that you’ll walk out of a function having signed up any new clients! You’re simply starting conversations that will continue on over time. You’re making connections. You’re building your own community.

  1. Realize Other People Are Nervous Too

I recently read an article in which Charles Duhigg, Pulitzer prize-winning reporter from the New York Times, admitted struggling with networking. He shared a few strategies for talking to people, which he tested at conferences. What he eventually found worked for him was forcing himself to speak to four different people within the first 10 minutes of an event.  Then, he goes back and continues a conversation with the person he enjoyed the most.

This man is a reporter and a best-selling author. He talks to people all the time as part of his job. And, even he was anxious in networking situations!

Many of the people you’re seeing around the room are feeling as insecure as you are. They’re hoping someone will come up and talk to them.

  1. It’s Ok to Be Yourself

Many “quiet girls” think they have to become more outgoing and cheerleaderly in order to be good at networking. So not true! As surprising as it might seem, you have skills and characteristics that make you great at building the strong relationships that contribute to successful businesses.

You’re probably a good listener. So when you show an interest in someone at an event and ask them questions about their business or their life, and then listen to their responses, people will take a liking to you. If you hear them mention a problem – perhaps they mention needing a resource or an introduction, for example – and you can offer a solution, you have created a reason for them to remember you. Once you have done a favor for them, they will be more likely to do a favor for you. This is a healthy exchange and can serve to support you, your relationships, and your business.

Keep in mind, you don’t have to meet and mingle with EVERYONE. You don’t win any awards for forcing yourself to stay the entire time. Just put these three recommendations to work next time you go to a networking event. Instead of bolting for the door five minutes after you arrive, you can leave feeling good about meeting a new friend and/or helping someone find the answer to a challenge.

Ready to improve your networking and relationship building skills even more? Click HERE to get the all-new & free “5 Relationship Building Mistakes Quiet Entrepreneurs Make” guide.

Lori Saitz is The Quiet Girl’s Guide. As a speaker and networking strategy coach, her services are in demand by entrepreneurs and business owners who need to overcome their fear of networking and want to feel more comfortable starting conversations and building relationships with clients and referral sources in order to create business success that allows them to serve the world. You can connect with her through LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/lorisaitz