By July 28, 2014 Read More →

Work that room

How to gain confidence at networking events

Speaker Stylist Lynne Cantor shares her top tips.

Lynne_Cantor smlSpeaking is a huge part of our lives, we all do it.  We discuss, debate and joke amongst our friends and colleagues with relative ease.  Put us in an unfamiliar situation though and many of us will clam up.  Having to go out and network is one of these situations and a necessity for many, as you make the transition from employee to being an entrepreneur.  Promoting your business, making contacts and building your networks are all essential to your success. So how do you gain confidence to speak in public?

Before you even start to speak at network events, be clear on your objectives.  Networking is about building contacts and relationships that will ultimately help grow your business.  It is not about selling to ‘the room’.  It is also about knowledge sharing, helping others and being helped by others.  Understand that and you will start off on the right foot.

So what happens when you first enter that room full of networkers?  Try and be aware of the type of networker that you are or could be: For example are you the ‘foodie’; you head for the food and drink to avoid making contact with anyone else, it’s also hard to talk with your mouth full!  Or maybe you are the ‘glue stick’; you find one friendly face and stick with them the whole time, or maybe you are the ‘waterworks’; always looking for a toilet as that is the safest place to be, considering you would rather be anywhere other than in that room!

Networking is a skill like any other and it takes time, commitment and application to make it successful.  A huge part of networking is about building trust, confidence and a good reputation.

Before you go to a network event try to make contact with one of the organisers so that they will be expecting you and ask for them upon arrival.  Arrive in time to network, not just at the time the meeting is due to start.  Upon arrival explain what you do and ask who would be a good person for you to be introduced to.  Smile.  Ask for a delegates list.  Smile.  Breath.  A few long slow deep breaths will help to keep your nerves in check.  Smile.  Other people are more likely to want to speak to someone who smiles and appears friendly.  Remember every networker at the event has been in your position at some point.

Look for open body language between small groups of people to see if you can join in the conversation.  If the people look like they are in a huddle or deep in conversation, try another group.  Try and catch someone’s eye, take a deep breath, smile and ask ‘may I join you?’ Be ready with your 10 second introduction.  A brief, succinct and snappy description of what you do with the aim to raise interest in your business.  So instead of saying “I am Lynne and I run a speaking business” I say “I am Lynne, a Speaker Stylist helping people to both sound good and look good”.  Or, instead of “I’m Joe Bloggs and I do marketing”, say “I am Joe Bloggs and I create campaigns to launch new products.”

Give yourself a target number of new people to speak to, every time, say two or three.  Do have your business cards on you but don’t hand them out like confetti.  Asking for others’ business cards may help you to remember their names.  Note on the card something that will remind you who they are and when you met them.  Useful for when you meet them next time.

Always set aside time after the event to review.  Did you achieve your objectives?  What could you do differently next time to make it an even more positive experience?  Do follow up on your new contacts within a few days?

The more you network, the easier it gets but whatever you do, do keep at it.  Build those contacts, develop those relationships and you will have people to support you as well as introductions to do business.  Good luck.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lynne Cantor is a Speaker Stylist helping others to both sound good and look good. Contact Lynne at Lynne@Standupandspeak.org.  Or visit: www.Standupandspeak.org

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