I’m sure there are some of you reading this who absolutely adore networking. The free refreshments, the potential new friends, the opportunity to hand out your gorgeous business cards you just got printed- it’s one of the most exciting things to look forward to as an entrepreneur!
I’m just kidding.
For a lot of us, networking is the absolute worst. When I first started my coaching business, I dreaded going to networking events, even though I knew I needed to make new connections to grow.
I’ve always been an extrovert, so showing up is the easy part. But even then, there’s something a little anxiety inducing about a lot of networking functions.
Do these people really want to spend their Wednesday night surrounded by strangers?
Of course they don’t, but that’s not a reason you shouldn’t be there shaking hands with every person in the room.
Networking experts understand that they need to be there to build a strong web of like-minded people to build connections that could help them later on.
It’s so easy to hide in the corner at these kinds of social events, but fight the feeling! If you do it right, networking can be a piece of cake- and build your list at lightning speed. You might even find a new client there!
Here are three reasons I hate networking (and three foolproof ways to make networking work for you!)
1. Networking can be uncomfortable.
At any given event, you might not know who you’ll meet, or if they’ll be interested in your services. Maybe, you just hate talking to strangers- or you’re nervous that you’ll look weird. All of that anxiety goes away when you go into these meetings with a plan. Make sure you’ve prepared your brief “elevator pitch” so you’ll wow the other attendees with your crystal clear marketing message. Just be yourself! Being prepared, organized, and affable will make you stand out among the crowd as an authority figure. Soon, people will be waiting in line to meet you!
2. Some events have no structure.
There’s nothing worse than walking into a networking event that’s unstructured and unorganized. Before you start panicking about the sudden realization that you’re expected to walk around and talk to strangers for 2 hours with no icebreaker, no theme, or no content, remember that you have goals! Set expectations for yourself like, “I want to get 15 business cards before I leave” or “I’m going to introduce myself to every single person in the room.” When you turn networking into a game, you have no choice but to win- every time.
3. Networking seems like a waste of time.
After you’ve left your networking event, you might feel like it was all for nothing… but I promise it wasn’t! With every card you collected and every number you collected, you’ve made a great new connection! But it won’t count unless you’ve followed up! Take inventory and start reaching out as you consider your secondary goals for this event. Maybe one of your new connections is willing to have lunch with you and discuss your business- or lead you to a new networking event that was fruitful for them in the past. Whatever your goal- always follow up!
So what are you waiting for? Scour Google for places you can network and get out there! There are tons of events near you, so for now, you’ll need to make a plan. A great starting place is going to 3 networking events a week. Remember, this is about quality, not quantity- so make the most of your networking. Remember to smile!