Networking Tips For Nervous Networkers
Compiled by Audrey Sellers Source: Andrea D. Vanacker | PPAI Media
Networking brings a heap of benefits, from expanding your client base to building professional relationships that can last a lifetime. The more people you meet, the larger your network becomes.
Are you enthusiastic about the opportunity—or are you feeling a bit overwhelmed? According to Andrea D. Vanacker, an author and speaker, it’s okay to feel pressure to make the most of events like trade shows and conferences. The key is to remember that networking isn’t rattling off your elevator pitch all day or rounding up dozens of business cards. Networking is about embracing the power of connecting with others.
Do you get sweaty palms at the thought of networking? Keep reading this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, where we highlight Vanacker’s tips on how to make networking easier.
Start networking online. If you’re nervous about meeting people face-to-face, start by reaching out digitally. Both in-person and online networking opportunities can be effective as long as you focus on having meaningful conversations that people will remember, says Vanacker. Send LinkedIn messages to clients you look forward to seeing at an upcoming event or join discussions in professional groups online. Vanacker notes that a quick email or even a Facebook message can also help you connect with others without the pressure of meeting in person.
Keep it casual. If you’re nervous about traditional networking, start with something smaller like a breakfast meeting or afternoon coffee. You can also get to know other people over lunch, says Vanacker. Casual get-togethers allow you to discuss work but also find common interests. They also eliminate the stress of needing to build rapport and establish authentic connections since you’re there to enjoy a light conversation with a short time limit.
Turn stress into curiosity. When you don’t love the idea of networking, approach it differently. Instead of going into an event to make a certain number of connections, think about it as an opportunity to meet interesting new people. Get curious about the other people at the event. Ask questions such as what they enjoy most about their job or what their biggest achievement was in the past few months, recommends Vanacker.
Reconnect with old acquaintances. Remember that networking doesn’t have to mean meeting new people. It also involves reconnecting with former colleagues or prospects you haven’t talked to in some time. Vanacker suggests reaching out to people you have lost contact with and simply saying hello and seeing how they’re doing. You don’t even have to talk about work — you can ask about the other person’s kids or pets, for example. Remember that they’re human just like you and appreciate a kind greeting.
Not everyone is a natural networker. If you tend to be networking-averse, try the practical tips above to feel more comfortable starting conversations.