This is the third in a series of 10 tips about networking based on a phone call I received.
You can read the first two tips and a little bit about the conversation that prompted this series on prior blog posts:
So now that you are ready to participate and are setting realistic expectations, there’s still the issue about feeling comfortable. It’s normal to feel awkward when walking into a room of people that you don’t know. You might feel like going to find your seat or simply hanging out with the people that you do know but either of those options are generally a mistake.
Remember, you want to attend a networking event in order to increase your leads, referrals, and business. Let me tell you a story…
One of the ladies that attends all sorts of networking events regularly (now) once was very scared about speaking in front of everyone and felt out-of-place and generally uncomfortable but still knew the value in networking. The structure made her comfortable but it was those “open networking” times that made her cringe and want to become a wall-flower. I won’t name names, but trust me, if you saw her now you wouldn’t even believe it because she’s a completely changed person. Here’s how she did it by utilizing Tip #3 To Feel Comfortable – Serve Others.
1. She offered to help in help in any way.
She contacted me and said “I need to help. I can’t just sit there, please give me something to do.” Believe me, at any networking event the organizer would love for anyone to offer to assist in any way possible. There ‘s a ton to be done and looked after. A second pair of hands and eyes are simply glorious. Giving her a purpose during that “open networking” made it easier for her to interact with others. So if you are struggling go to the organizer and tell them you want to help. Generally someone is always needed to make the new people feel comfortable, to check people in, or to keep the meeting moving in some way.
2. She sought out the wall-flowers and tried to make them feel comfortable.
Because she had been a wall-flower herself she chose to pay special attention to the shy attendees. By helping others to feel at-ease, she took her mind off of herself and actually made some great contacts.
3. She stopped trying to be “interesting” and decided to be “interested” instead.
I don’t think she really realized that what she is doing is exactly what Tom Hopkins (my favorite every sales trainer) suggests. Basically, she decided to put her attention on the other person. She did more listening, less talking and took the pressure off of herself to impress others. The irony of this, is that the more she did that, the more she realized that she began making true connections with others and friendships and business followed naturally.
You can learn more about this “technique” at the downloadable mp3 linked below. I credit this recording with whatever success I’ve had in sales and dealing with people.
While this story is not about me, per se, in a way it could be. I was extremely shy once and used to consider myself a introvert. But I’ve stretched and grown and pushed myself….mostly I’ve learned from books, tapes, seminars and the like.
When you feel scared networking you are not alone, but over time you’ll begin to make friends and feel more comfortable and those friendships will be worth so much to you professionally and personally.
I’d love to hear what you’ve done to feel comfortable at networking events.