If you’re not comfortable walking into a room full of strangers and striking conversations, you’re not alone. Connecting with people is something a lot of people aspire to do naturally as it’s essential to success especially in business. But yet many people confess to dreading the idea of networking.
Despite all that, whether you run your own business or you’re employed, you may have to network at some point in your life right? Professional networking events present opportunities to interact with others on both a professional and personal level with a view to developing profitable relationships. If you want to grow your business or promote yourself/career, such occasions are imperative.
Below are 5 common mistakes or perhaps stumbling blocks that many face, and tips to help overcome them.
#1 WAITING FOR A FORMAL INTRODUCTION
Ok, we all know for a fact it’s much easier to make a new contact when there is someone else to handle the introduction and pave the way. But really, if you wait for another person to make the move you may not meet anyone!
Networking events are there for a reason. The goal is always to meet as many people as possible so anyone should be able to approach anyone they don’t know, introduce themself and start a conversation. This can be easier if you’ve prepared your self-introduction in advance.
How do you make it easier?
#2 FEAR OF HAVING YOUR INTENTIONS MISUNDERSTOOD
In most cultures, approaching someone of the opposite sex to begin a conversation may be perceived as flirting, even when it’s networking. As a woman, I know this is an issue mainly for us than men. However, in this day & age we have an equal place in the business field and we need to make professional connections the same as men do. So we can’t afford to hold back when there are opportunities at hand.
What to do about this:
#3 DON’T WANT TO BE SEEN AS PUSHY
I don’t know why people think this but a lot of people think their self-confidence can turn people off. Some even think if someone wants to talk to you, they will make the first move…. Really? If this is your line of thinking, then you’ll find yourself spending your time alone at functions and leaving without making new connections.
So hear me well here: Being open, friendly and interested does NOT turn people off.
People like to talk to people who seem open and friendly.
So how do you do it?
#4 LACK OF SELF CONFIDENCE i.e thinking that other people may not like you.
OK, there is always the risk that the other person is not interested in you and doesn't want to meet or talk to you. It’s life, it happens. Should that be the case, don't take it personally. Remember, nothing ventured is nothing gained. When you get a cold shoulder, smile and move on to the next person.
#5 NOT COMFORTABLE TALKING TO STRANGERS
I think most of us were taught at an early age not to speak to strangers, right? We were told it's not safe. Even though you’re probably older now, in certain situations today this advice is still valid.
However in business, talking to strangers is a way to generate interest and support for your products and services. If we only talk to people we already know, we will miss out on opportunities to make new connections and establish valuable contacts.
So how do we get past the discomfort in talking to strangers?
Overcoming or correcting these blocks will have you supercharge your career and your business.
Do you have troubles networking? Do any of the above sound familiar to you? Would love to hear your thoughts/comments/experiences.