Take the Fear out of Networking
As a small business owner or one who hopes to be, networking is something you’ve likely heard of. But is it really that important to your business? You may wonder if anyone is bothering to do it, and if it’s worth it.
The truth is that the majority of business owners engage in networking. And the high number of networking associations in the UK can attest to that. Each week, business owners meet to share their ideas and experiences. Basically, if you’re not networking, you are in the minority. Not only that, but your business strategy is missing a vital component.
But networking is something that many business owners approach with great reluctance, even if they understand its importance to their business. And this is understandable; after all, networking means placing yourself in a room full of people you don’t know and making conversation. A daunting prospect to be sure!
If that wasn’t enough, all of the insecurities we have about ourselves also come into play. We worry that we won’t be smart enough, that we will make a fool of ourselves, and countless other things that can make staying home much more inviting than heading out to a networking event.
Out of the Comfort Zone
One way to look on networking is that it takes you out of your comfort zone. That being said, feeling uncomfortable about any new situation is normal, but there is a way to handle it. All you have to do is simply acknowledge the fact that networking makes you feel uncomfortable, accept that fact, and get out there and network. Avoiding networking will only cause you to surround the prospect of it with more fear.
You Are Already Networking
When you think about it, you network with strangers every day. The counter person at the petrol station, the person who says ‘hello’ on the street, and even your child’s teacher. So what is the difference between that and attending a networking session? Nothing, except that at a networking session you are having longer interactions with those you don’t know.
What to Say
What to say is on the minds of many who are thinking about attending a networking event. And the best advice is to be prepared. Compose a general opening for conversations before you go to an event. It can be as simple as saying hello, stating your name and business and then asking if anyone minds that you join in the conversation.
Ending a conversation can be as difficult for some as starting one. But once again, preparation is the key to success. A general ending can include a statement that conversing with the person has been a pleasure, and that you hope to see them again soon. A polite exit can also occur during one of many of the natural breaks in conversation.
Although some of the fears you may associate with networking can seem daunting, they are not impossible to overcome. A networking event is supposed to be pleasurable, allowing you to meet new friends and share information with other business owners, as well as learn. It shouldn’t feel like a chore. The best news is that the more you network, the better at it you will be.
At the end of the day, there is no trick to successful networking other than to be yourself. Because the truth is that even if we give what we think is the best impression, a range of opinions will be formed about us which we can’t control. So why worry? Instead, be concerned with what you can control: yourself. Be friendly, project a positive attitude, and get ready to learn a lot from other event attendees as well as reap the business benefits.