If business networking is and always has been easy for you, you are extremely lucky to have this skill. If you’ve ever been intimidated by networking and events, you are definitely not alone.
When I think of myself back in the early stages of my career, and I’d hear the word “networking” at an event or conference, I would get nervous. Typically, more of an extrovert in my normal environment, the idea of networking with people I didn't know would throw me into a tailspin of emotions: fear, clammy sweats, and even a little bit of worry.
I’d worry about things like:
“How should I start a conversation?”
“These people probably all know each other and I might be the only one that doesn’t know anyone”
“What if I ask a question that doesn’t make sense?”
Sound familiar? I’d let a lot of these nonsense questions get into my head and would tend to avoid networking and conversations as much as I could because of it. Luckily, I’ve been fortunate to have been put into many networking situations and events, which enabled me to acknowledge my worries and tackle them head on.
Start with a Smile
What did I do? I told myself, “Start with a smile.” It was that simple … start with a smile.
It truly is amazing how much a simple smile can open up a conversation and be met with another smile. It’s almost like an invitation to connect. Once that ice is broken, then comes the easy part:
“Hi, how are you?”
“Tell me about yourself.”
“What is your role?”
“What are you finding most valuable?”
“What did you come to learn about?”
Here are a few links to networking tips that you may find useful:
It’s amazing when you start to open yourself up, conferences and networking become so much more valuable. I’ve been fortunate to meet some really amazing people over the years by pushing myself to open up at networking events and conferences. I’ve pushed myself to view these events as opportunities vs. intimidating situations.
So, if you are ever in a situation where you are feeling intimidated in a networking situation, just remember, “start with a smile” and the rest will come. Be brave, push yourself, and be you. You've got this.