I had the pleasure of speaking about networking in real life. It may seem easy to do, but ask anyone what they think about networking and you’ll hear answers like “It’s a necessary evil” or “I hate it!” I’ve even heard people say they only go because their boss made them!
The reason we feel this way is because we put too much pressure on ourselves. Pressure to look perfect. Pressure to think of things to talk about. Pressure to make a sale.
These are all wrong.
We’ve been networking our entire lives! Think about all the friends you’ve made throughout your life. Who was your first friend in elementary school? High school? New friends in college? Anyone outside of our immediate family we met because we approached them or someone introduced us. THIS IS NETWORKING!
Stop thinking of networking as a task to be done in order to make a sale and start thinking of it as a way to build professional relationships. Want a few things to talk about besides the weather or the space itself? Here are the two most important things I suggest:
1. What is the best thing about what you do?
This gets people engaged with their passion. It also throws them off a little bit because this is not a typical question. The element of surprise will put them on the spot a little bit, but check for the glimmer in their eyes as they talk about what they enjoy best about their profession.
2. How can I help you?
This is also a surprise question. In a world full of self-centeredness, be the person who helps others. The caveat to this one is a big deal though: Don’t ask this question if you have no intention of following through. Being authentic in your ask is more important than the ask itself.
A few other topics I share:
Know how you want to introduce yourself and be ready to modify it for the audience.
Dress your professional
If you are in the financial sector and you show up in yoga pants and your favorite stained, over-sized sweatshirt, I’m probably going to have a hard time handing over my life savings. But if you are a yoga instructor and above mentioned sweatshirt is part of your brand, then by all means, flaunt it!
No matter what your profession or how you dress, walk into a room like you own the place. Even if you’ve convinced yourself you don’t belong in the room – for whatever crazy reason – pose yourself in the most powerful way you can, take a deep breath and know you can do anything you want!
You got this!
With Gratitude, Rina