How do you feel when you arrive at 7.14 am or 12.14 pm for that network breakfast or lunch? You are warmly greeted by the host, move to the bar and get yourself a drink and if you are not a regular you probably move over to the wall with the guest list. You go through the guest list to see what table you are on and who your fellow guests are.
Now is the moment where you feel somewhere between a tiny bit queasy right through the list of emotions to feeling petrified. There is some great news coming up… you are normal.
Approximately 1% of the population have no worries about walking into a room full of strangers and starting to chat. That 1in 100 are abnormal and I am one of them, by the way! I never used to be but I have conquered the fear through analysis. Not psychoanalysis but by studying the factors.
Delegates on my seminars tell me the fears are:
- Making a fool of themselves.
- Not knowing what to say.
- Not being interesting.
- Not knowing how to finish and move on.
- Feeling uncomfortable and embarrassed meeting “strangers”.
Remember, strangers are simply friends who you haven’t yet met.
However, EVERY time I address an audience someone always says, “I fear rejection”. Stop and answer this question. When, as an adult have you ever been rejected i.e. you have gone up to someone and they walked away? The answer is probably never.
Get to the lunch early so you don’t have to face a sea of strangers. Go up to a person standing alone and ask if you may join them and introduce yourself. You will not be rejected, far from it, they will be delighted, give you a massive mental hug and probably say a prayer “Thank you Lord, I am not Billy (or Betty) No Mates anymore!” Think how you would feel if someone approached you, yes exactly the same as I have described. So make the first move and start to build a relationship.
That’s why you are there. Networking clubs are established for the 98% of people mentioned previously. They are safe havens where everyone knows what they are there to do unlike perhaps cocktail parties or social events which are great networking opportunities but most people are too reticent to start the conversations.
When you start the conversation ask simple questions like where have you come from, are you someone’s guest, what line of business are you in? etc. All you need to do is ask interesting questions and show interest. Great networkers are a lot more interested than interesting, as we never learn anything when we talk, only when we listen. When it is your turn to tell people what you do, respond in an interesting and enthusiastic way. I am an accountant, graphic designer, printer tells people what you are, not what you do. Start by telling them what benefits your clients’ get from your services.
“So, Will, what do you do?”
“I help my clients who struggle to attract new business”
“Oh, how do you do that?”
“I show them how to network with confidence by running seminars and workshops giving lots of tips, techniques and ideas how to work the room and feel comfortable doing it”
Remember if you work the room properly, those two hours between 7.00am and 9.00am or 12.00pm and 2.00pm can change your business life.
Blog by Will…