Three Ways to be More Confident at Networking Events
Like other skills, face-to-face networking is a learnable skill and anyone can do it with practice, but there are a few tips and techniques you can use to make it easier, especially at the beginning while you build up confidence. Here are three of them:
1. ARRIVE EARLY. If you have time to learn only one thing it should be this: if you are not comfortable about face-to-face events always arrive early. If you arrive an hour later the crowd has already coalesced into tightly-bound mingling groups that are difficult to penetrate. If you are the first to arrive then the second person has to talk to you, then the third joins you and so on. If you are lucky some of the early birds are also expert minglers and will move from you to another person by using the technique of introducing you to someone else, which was exactly what you wanted.
2. GET INVOLVED. If you are a member of some professional organization or networking group you will get more results by volunteering to help. That way it is easier to meet other people while you are doing your duty. You will feel more confident having a defined role to play and you will be more visible. It also makes sure that you are known to the organizers, who tend to have the best connections anyway. You don't need to volunteer for life, but take on some role for a year and it will boost the depth and quality of your network.
3. DEFINE REALISTIC GOALS. Don't go to an event expecting to meet hundreds of people. Start with a more modest and realistic goal to meet at least one person, then two and maybe three. Better to have a modest goal and reach it than to rush around shaking many hands but not really getting to know anyone and leave feeling that you failed. Having a goal that you can meet means that you succeed, and this gives you more confidence for the next meeting.
There are many other things you can try: talk to other people who are on their own, talk to speakers, talk to people who ask questions during lectures, talk to the organizers and so on. But the most important thing is to practice. You can't learn to play piano in one sitting and you can't master the art of networking in one event. Accept that it will take a certain number of hours to achieve competence and just work these hours.
There's much more about professional networking in the second edition of my book Payforward Networking. Paperback & Kindle editions on Amazon.
Lectures, Workshops, Coaching, Writing
For lectures, workshops, coaching and writing about networking and other communication topics visit http://andrewhennigan.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0046 730 894 475 in Sweden.
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