Imagine this scenario…
Your name has been ticked on the register at the door and a badge has been slapped on your jacket ready to announce to the room who you are and how exactly how you can be of use to anyone.
Having been directed to the table of coffee and croissants you automatically walk over and help yourself, only realizing afterwards that you don’t have enough limbs to carry your coffee, croissant AND bag whilst still being able to do the obligatory shaking of hands with everyone you meet. You don’t even know why you picked up a croissant. You’ve already had breakfast and your mouth is so dry and your stomach so unsettled that eating anything right now is clearly going to be disastrous.
Placing the croissant back down on the table and hoping no-one saw you pick it up in the first place, you scour the room.
Groups of people are huddled together in a seemingly relaxed state like they’ve known each other forever. There’s a buzz of chatting, laughing, suits, handshakes, business cards…they all seem to be having a whale of a time.
But you? This is your absolute worst nightmare.
You’ve got to go up to these people. These strangers, that you’ve never met before. And sell yourself. Exude confidence, charisma and charm until they fall at your feet and beg you to work with them before handing over their hard earned cash.
You’ve never felt more out of your comfort zone in your life. And as you stand there staring at the busy room, you think to yourself – ‘What the hell am I doing here?’
Hmm, fun, right? NOT!
Does the above scenario sound familiar at all?
Maybe you’ve experienced something similar. Or perhaps it’s the scary vision that goes round and round your head whenever the dreaded word is mentioned.
Whether you like it or not, networking is hugely important to running a business. It’s all about making connections with people who will read your blog, help spread the word, collaborate with you and ultimately hand over their money. Without them your business is worth nothing, zilch, nada.
But networking doesn’t have to mean putting yourself through the scary ordeals of your worst nightmares.
If you are more on the introverted side of the scale and find the idea of walking into a busy room of strangers exhausting, there are many other ways that you can make genuine connections with people (without losing your confidence or sanity).
Read on to find out how…
Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn…the options are endless. Social Media has been the talk of our times over the last few years and has been a particularly fantastic development for introverts who are running businesses. From the safety of your own home you can reach out to others who you’ve never met, join in conversations with people who have something interesting to say, and make genuine connections that will help spread the word about what you do. Not a scary business card in site!
Grab a cuppa 1:1
If the idea of going to a networking event brings you out in a cold sweat, then how about making things more intimate. Meeting up with someone who you’ve already connected with online can be way more beneficial than throwing yourself into the deep end. You will have already had the chance to scope each other out online, plus you can choose a relaxed environment and simply have a natter over a cuppa. It’s just a nice morning out of the office!
Make the most of connections you already have
We all have a certain amount of connections through friends and family, so make the most of what you have already. It can be much easier to talk to people you know already so get the message out there to friends and family. Just a simple email to your personal list can do the trick. It’s amazing what business you can get from friends of friends but it will only happen if they know what you’re up to!
Check out training events
Events that are purely about networking can often feel daunting because the whole event is based around meeting people. So how about trying events where there are other things going on? There are plenty of events around that include presentations and workshops which can serve as a great opportunity to make new connections without it being the entire focus of the day.
Do your research and find events that suit you
The scenario up top may scare the living daylights out of you but it’s certainly not how all networking events roll. These days there are plenty of groups that are actively closing the door on salesy, pitchy, suity events in favour of more intimate relaxed get togethers. They can serve as a chance to learn from each other and make new friends. Do your research and find events where your kind of people hang out. And if going all on your todd makes you nervous, then take a friend. Simple!
The most important factor when it comes to networking is to discover what works for you. It’s important to challenge yourself and push yourself out of your comfort zone now and again, but you’ll be most successful with whatever you do if you find your flow and do what works for you. So ditch worrying about those salesy events. You never needed them anyway.
* Thanks to Kathryn for this great article – and if you’re looking for the perfect way to take your business to the next level, in a truly collaborative supportive environment (that isn’t about pitching your business), checkout the Women Unlimited Business Clubs in your local area. They’re launching right now and provide the perfect blend of training, brainstorming and support, to help all women grow their business, regardless of personality type!