Around this time of year when the holiday event season is in full swing, I’m often responding to questions about networking.
Managers ask, “How can I get my team to mingle more with our clients and listen for new business opportunities?” Individual business professionals want ideas for how to make networking less stressful.
Most of us understand how important these corporate events are to our careers, but we sometimes find these communications situations quite uncomfortable. We may fear that we won’t know anyone there and will have difficulty jumping into conversations. We worry about making the best impression.
What can you do to overcome those negative emotions and regain your confidence?
Prepare to attend a networking event the same way you prepare if you are the host or the speaker at the event. Determine how you can provide value to the people you will meet.
Get acquainted with your fellow attendees beforehand. Ask your contacts and use on-line resources to explore why people are attending, and what their interests might be.
Review your own personal profile, taking into consideration what you might have in common with other attendees. Identify information that could be useful in introducing yourself and contributing to conversations.
If you put in the preparation time, you’ll feel equipped to enrich your conversations with ideas that others find helpful. You’ll reduce your anxiety and project confidence, credibility, authenticity and all those wonderful qualities that make people want to get to know you.
The networking process becomes easier to navigate as you meet other attendees. You’ll feel more at ease, listen more attentively, and communicate more naturally. You’ll probably even make others feel more comfortable. Think of it…you’re getting your mind off your own concerns and helping others. You’ll make connections!
And if all this seems daunting, bring a “wingman”, someone who will facilitate a few introductions to get you started.
Enjoy the holiday season! It’s the perfect time to practice your networking skills.