My job requires me to lead a team, give presentations regularly in front of large crowds, pitch for new business and up-sell to existing clients, all of which I can do with ease and without anything more than the usual adrenaline jitters. But put me in a room full of people and expect me to ‘network’ and I become a scared child. I have discovered that I am utterly useless at small talk and I never fully know what is expected from me in these situations – am I supposed to subtly pitch for business, talk myself up, or is the aim to get to know people on a personal level to forge relationships?
I invariably get it wrong; either giving too much information on myself and feeling exposed or boring people with the hard sell. I am sorry to say that I have regularly hidden in the loo’s on the ‘networking’ break at events so as to avoid that awful moment when you’ve gotten a cup of coffee and then flail around looking for someone to introduce yourself to! Is there etiquette to these situations that I am not aware of or is it just the domain of the super confident?
Put me in a room full of people and expect me to network and I become a scared child
Funny isn’t it you can present with ease as 99% of the population would rather eat their left arm than do that!
Mind you the clear majority of people I come across have similar fears to what you have expressed when it comes to networking.
But here’s the secret; networking is simply building relationships – or let me make it even easier for you – it’s just talking. We all do it from the age of two whether you like it or not.
If you’re normal your main fear is of rejection. Will anyone talk to me? Will I be judged and found wanting? Will I be interesting?
The most interesting people we meet are most interested in us
I am guessing you’re a nice person and you need to believe that virtually everyone else in that room is the same. Get there early so you’re not faced with that sea of strange faces. Find someone alone, go up and say ‘Please may I join you?’ Smile, good eye contact, firm handshake, exchange names, repeat their name and remember it. Then the ice breaker question. “What made you come to this event?” or “How was your journey here today?” You are the answer to their prayer which was ‘Please someone come and talk to me’!
The most interesting people we meet are most interested in us. You will be the most interesting person at the event by showing genuine interest through insightful questions.
And NO selling of your company or its services early on in the relationship. People buy people before they buy the product or service so get selling…yourself. There’s so much more to say but let me summarise.
The top 10 habits and skills of world-class networkers.
- They have good self-belief when attending group events
- They are proud of the work they do and the company they represent
- They are friendly, courteous and polite to everyone
- They share, they’re kind and they are generous
- They are reliable; they follow up their commitments
- They are persistent. When they spot a potential opportunity they follow up
- They are patient; it takes time to build meaningful relationships
- They plan and prepare carefully before attending events
- They ask intelligent and searching questions
- They listen carefully and respond positively
This short video shows you which are the best groups to join…and not join!
About Will Kintish
Will Kintish is a leading UK authority on effective and confident ‘people’ networking. If you’d like Will to speak at your conference or training workshops, call him on 0161 773 3727. Visit www.kintish.co.uk for further free and valuable information on face-to-face networking.
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