For some people, walking up to an absolute stranger and striking up a conversation is easy. They have no problem introducing themselves to a large group of people they may not know. If you’re one of these people, congratulations. Not only does this characteristic show that you are a confident individual, but it also gets your name out there. It allows for you to be more memorable. On the other hand, some people have a hard time with this. It can be a nerve wracking experience that really worries them. For these types of individuals, the networking environment is the last place they want to be. Unfortunately, in business, networking is a must. Here are a few tips to give the lesser adept individuals a leg up on the competition:
Perfect your elevator pitch. Having an idea of what it is that you want to say or what you want to know, will allow you to be much more prepared for the conversation.
Do your homework. In a networking situation, knowing your audience is a huge asset. If you know who will be in attendance, get a head start and research their business portfolio. Going in with this kind of knowledge will allow you to speak eloquently on the subject of their business and will engage the listener.
Practice. Practice. Practice. For people who have trouble speaking in networking situations, practice makes perfect. Before the event, develop questions that you will want to ask and practice in the mirror. This will allow you to become more comfortable talking and speaking to other people.
Use your connections. Networking is always easier with a “wing man.” If you have shared connections, they can facilitate an introduction rather than you introducing yourself out of the blue. This will allow you to be more comfortable knowing that there is an expectation they will be meeting you.
Listen. Most people who are good at networking may jump into a conversation right after the introduction. They will attempt to squeeze in all the interesting details about themselves and their experience into a short conversation. While doing this though, they may forget to hear what the other person has to say. Remember to listen to new acquaintances, you are showing them that you really care about what they have to say.
By following these simple steps, the nightmare that is networking may become easy for you. The most important thing to remember is to not panic. Networking should be fun. Meeting new people can help build relationships and can lead to extraordinary opportunities. Never miss a chance to introduce yourself; you never know where that relationship can take you.