Some people are natural born speakers and excel at networking. Some people are utterly terrified of public speaking and trying to network to gain perspective new partners or clients. Networking is important to help branch yourself out to new joint ventures and clients, so how do you overcome that awkwardness or take the awkwardness out of networking for the people who don’t naturally excel at it? There’s two venues for networking. First is face to face networking and then there’s online networking through places like LinkedIn or other social networking sites.
Networking on social network sites is a bit less stressful and easier to do. The fear of rejection and denial isn’t as prominent online as it is when you attend a local event. For the purpose of this article, we’re going to focus on taking the awkwardness out of face to face networking.
Have Goals and Know Them Prior To Going To An Event
Most networking is done at events, presentations, conventions or chamber meetings. You’ll meet like-minded business owners, entrepreneurs and people who could very well help you gain some new business. However, you don’t want to show up to an event with an empty brain on what it is you’re looking for. You need to know exactly what your purpose is and why you’re there. It needs to remain fresh in your mind.
Are you there to gain some new business partners? Are you looking to gain some new clients for a business? Are you just looking to pick the mind of some like-minded individuals? Whatever the reason is, know exactly what you’re looking for before arrival.
Bring A Partner Or Friend
Having a friend handy will not only loosen you up but it’ll help you relax around people you don’t know. It can be a bit unnerving to say the least when you show up to an event by yourself and you’re surrounded by people you’ve never met before. Try to bring someone who can contribute to conversations or at least someone who knows something about the event you’re attending.
Introduce Yourself To A Big Wig
If you see someone who is highly successful, walk up to them and introduce yourself with a firm handshake. Try to have a topic ready before hand and make sure you’ve got something to say. Bring up their presentation if they gave one or congratulate them on a recent accomplishment to get the ball rolling. If you can get someone locked into conversation about business, you will have the opportunity to bring up your business or proposal. Don’t just nudge your way into an active conversation though.
Know When To End A Conversation
Sometimes, a conversation can become stale and there’s nothing really wrong with that but you have to know when it’s time to end one. If you run out of things to talk about or notice both of you are in a dead silence, tell them it was a pleasure meeting them, hand them a business card and move on.
Don’t Be Afraid To Make Bold Statements When Applicable
The COO of Facebook Sheryl Sandberg has a book called Lean In. In that book, she describes one meeting where a woman simply walked up to her, asked her what their core business problems were and how she would be able to fix them and that’s how she asked for a job interview. You’re going to face some inevitably tough questions when you go to a high end position interview. Don’t be afraid to make bold statements when there’s room for them and say them with confidence.