Do I want to go to yet another morning networking breakfast. The last one was the same as the one before. I have nothing in common with those people. The ‘in-group’ always dominate and they don`t seem to really want to have new people ‘join their club’. So when fear stops you from networking and what to do about it becomes too big an issue.
A colleague said these words to me, some 18 months ago. He was completely over networking at the local level. He had tried different member groups. Non seemed to offer too much. The groups had been in place for some time, were settled, were comfortable with their leadership, their agenda and were not really keen to do anything different. So my mate decided it was not worth his time.
Yet, the same person relished the idea of conferences and masterminds, those big ideas bonanza events that occurred infrequently!
So what about you, are you a reluctant participant, and what do you know to do about it?
Here is an article I came across recently and it nails the issue “Networking Tactics for the Non-Networker”.
Nathan Williams from Digital Entrepreneur put together a great ‘how-to’ . Highly recommended, and thanks for the opportunity to share these tactics. There`s a link to the whole article at the endof this extract. Please go read.
When you show up at a work event, a conference, or a networking gala, do you feel it helps your career or wastes your time? Some people are natural at working the room to make valuable contacts and deals, but many of us find crowds intimidating and talking to strangers uncomfortable. If we respond by clinging to a group of people that we already know, we miss out on most of the value of the event.
In this article I will talk about a few of the concrete tactics that have worked for me. Feel free to like and share it, and leave a comment below if you found it useful.
Introversion doesn’t matter
Many people I know don’t realize I’m somewhat introverted, and don’t believe me when I tell them. I enjoy individuals but feel shy and uncomfortable in large gatherings and social situations. But that’s okay because connecting with people in an event setting is a learned skill, and it doesn’t matter if it comes naturally or not.
I have learned to think of networking as a process to go through, with my job being to make the other people feel comfortable, and see how I can help them. Because I know the steps, I can follow them. The steps are:
- Approach a person I don’t know and introduce myself
- Direct the conversation to find out about the other person’s work, projects, and interests
- Move on from the conversation after a few minutes to maximize the number of people I meet and to allow the other person to do the same
Most people feel awkward meeting new people. If you think of your role as helping others feel comfortable, people warm to that.
The people you want to approach come in 3 varieties:
- Important people you’ve pre-identified: speakers, VIPs, etc. These people are the easiest to approach because there’s usually a reason you want to meet them. Therefore you know what you want to talk about.
- People standing on their own.
- People standing in groups not really talking. Often they’ll be next to each other in an open stance, looking around the room.
I find the best approach is a direct one. Everyone is there for the same reason, to meet strangers. Keep the following in mind:
- Approach with confidence, like the confident person you are/are playing. If you walk up to a person or small group timidly, they have to make the first move. If you walk up and extend your hand and say “Hi, I’m [INSERT NAME HERE]” it makes them feel safe to respond.
- Bright eyes, warm handshake, look them in the eye in Western countries. You may not have met the person before, but you are really happy to see them. If this doesn’t come naturally, imagine you are an actor playing the role of a confident person.
People often mirror the body language and comfort level of the person they are talking to. If you act comfortable and confident, it puts them at ease. If they are actually at ease, you will be at ease. Fake it until you make it.
Here`s the link to the complete article by Nathan Williams