Last time I shared Susie Burdekin’s fears and worries about networking – some familiar ground for many of us, I suspect.
This is how Susie worked to overcome those networking fears….. (in her own words)
‘I had to turn it on its head….and over time (and practice) I tackled each area and gradually became more confident. I realised I’m not a loud extrovert that marches into a room and demands to turn heads – it’s just not my style… and that’s ok.
But I am now more confident about my ability to walk in to a room of strangers and spark a conversation. More importantly I focus less on myself and instead on the person I’m talking to – I’m interested in them and what they have to say. I don’t need to shout the loudest to have presence in a room. I focus on being comfortable in my own skin and asking them questions and being present when they’re talking
1. Get the basics sorted
– Be comfortable in what you’re wearing. Sounds obvious but if you’re not comfortable it’ll ooze out from your body language;
– Work out where you’re going – nothing like last minute stress trying to figure out where the venue is to add to your nerves.
2. Do your research
– Is there anybody specific you’d like to meet or talk to at the event?
– If so, think about their attitudes/needs/expectations, what would they find interesting and how could you make them more receptive to you?
3. Reframe the event
– Key one for me – you’re looking to build relationships, have an interesting conversation – not do a hard sell on strangers.
4. Change your perspective
– If you get nervous, then I think this can be a great tactic – if you could be anybody (famous, fictional, dead or alive) going along – who would it be and what would they do?(Personally I liked Batman! The cape represented something different I had to wear and most importantly the element that I could literally just fly in and fly out. Just taking the stress out of the thought that I HAD to stay all evening as opposed to just 1-2 hours helped massively. Invariably I generally stayed the entire evening, but just thinking about it differently took the pressure off for me).
5. Watch role models
– If you know of somebody you really admire at such events, observe what they do.
6. Take the pressure off
– My aim of a night is to have 1 or 2 interesting conversations. If I’ve talked to somebody about a holiday destination, news event or hobby, then I’m much more likely to remember them and want to keep in touch, rather than the person that wasn’t interested in what I had to say and just wanted to shove their business card in my hand!
7. It’s not about you
– The final bit that helped me – it’s not about you. Stop putting the pressure on yourself and agonising over whether YOU’RE interesting, good, clever enough. Instead ask – ‘how can I help somebody here tonight?’, ‘how can I make someone’s life here a little better?’ and that could be some interesting or useful information, a tip, book to read.
– Ask them questions and really listen to what they have to say. If you’re struggling to know what to say to start a conversation, state a mutual observation, talk about something relevant happening in the news or ask them a question about the event; what do you think of the speakers tonight? Great venue isn’t it? If you can make it a question, then the easier it is for them to engage with you.
So you see? Thanks to Susie’s tips and ideas NONE of us has anything to fear! So get out there and build those relationships!
To download this article click on the following link How BATMAN helped me network