5 Stress-Free Networking Tips
One of the necessary evils of running a small business is networking. Meeting new people is hard. Putting yourself out there is scary. But, we all know the benefits that come from meeting new people, from putting yourself out there. So how can we take the bite out of networking? Let’s look at five stress-free network tips.
Change Your Mindset
Networking sucks. So stop “networking” and start connecting with people on a human level. The best way to do that, according to networking guru, Keith Ferrazzi, is to start from a place of generosity. Rather than thinking that networking is about what people can do for you, consider what you can do for others.
Preparation is key to stress-free networking. Getting the conversation started is often the most daunting part of meeting new people. So prepare a cold starter, something that will give you permission to join any conversation. A friend of mine attended a networking event in San Francisco and was approached by a fellow attendee with, “Look! I chose red wine too!” That was all it took to get the conversation started.
Be (or Fake Being) Confident
Being friendly goes a long way when you’re at a networking event or conference. Smile, look people in the eyes to show you’re open, attentive, and confident. While you may feel like a fraud, acting confident and friendly puts others, who are experiencing the same anxiety, at ease. And this will bring people to you!
Share the Pressure
No one said you have to do all the talking. In fact, it’s better if you don’t. Share the burden of the conversation by asking others questions about them, their work, their passions. Don’t be afraid to get personal to learn more about their motivations, lessons learned and even regrets. Find a reason to care and dig deeper.
After all the pressure to meeting new people and to put yourself out there, you can’t see any benefit if you don’t follow up. Send LinkedIn requests right away. Text pictures you took during the event. And request any appropriate meetings within three days. Don’t let all the hard work be wasted because you didn’t follow up.
Whether you’re an introvert, or just starting to strike out on your own, networking can be difficult, but with a little preparation, generosity, and confidence, you may find it’s the difference between a good year and a great year. Now get out there and start meeting new people!