Networking has become the latest craze in the business community. It is the process of gaining clients through natural connections with individuals. Networking can be as simple as telling your friends that they can refer clients to you or as complex as attending networking events and striking up conversations with other individuals in your industry.
The income gained from networking is great and participating in activities surrounding it are easy and affordable. All you have to do is leave your comfort zone and use your skills to listen and talk to others.
Although this process sounds simple, networking isn’t always as easy as people may think. Some people have personalities that do not network well.
For example, some introverted individuals feel that socializing is one of the toughest tasks they face. These people get anxious just thinking about talking to strangers or going out of their comfort zones.
Others lack experience and do not feel confident enough to present their business in a comfortable and professional fashion. However, with the recent increase in the networking trend, the opportunities are too good to ignore.
Here are some ways to improve your networking skills:
Decrease Anxiety Associated with Attending Events
Practice and make it a habit
Going out can be troublesome or uncomfortable for some people, especially those that are introverted. One way to overcome a weakness such as this one is to practice at it. It is not an easy task to overcome your weakness, but once you do it, it will be worth it. Slowly start to show yourself to the world by walking around or going out with some of your friends to slowly free yourself from anxiety.
Know that others are anxious as well
Many people are also anxious about being surrounded by people they don’t know. You are not alone. Others may be feeling anxious and uncomfortable at the present moment, but their feelings just don’t show. You will not appear to be nervous or uncomfortable either. Remember that others are feeling the same way you are and you may increase your confidence.
Think about the positive results
Avoid thinking about all the unlikely, negative consequences and tell yourself that everything will go well. If a conversation with one person does not go well, move on to another person. There are a lot of people waiting to hear about a product or service you offer. Just move on to the next target and talk to them.
Show up early
Come to events before groups start to form. You’ll be able to talk to more early birds individually. If you show up late, you may create excuses to avoid talking to others who have already formed groups.
Don’t worry about your first impression
Rather than being afraid that you might make a bad first impression of yourself in front of other people, do your best to make a good impression. Just be yourself and you will be confident enough to talk about what you do best.
Keep conversations going
Bring a friend
Ask one of your friends to come to events with you. This will guarantee that you will have someone to talk to or help with conversations. It’s an added bonus if your friend is someone who loves talking and can keep a conversation from getting stale.
Being a good listener during conversations is something that everyone appreciates. As an added bonus, try to figure out the talker’s needs. By doing this, you’ll be more likely to present something that will appeal to them when it’s your turn to speak.
Get to know people’s businesses
Don’t sell. Listen.
Listening well is an integral part of assessing the person’s needs. You get to know what someone wants and what they have right now. By doing this, you will be able to create the impression that you are helping them rather than selling or networking.
Be active on social media
Take advantage of different social media networks to find contacts and market your skills. Your list of friends and your friend’s friends are valuable resources. It’s all about making connections, but don’t overwhelm them or you may be blocked.
These are just some of the ways to improve your networking skills. It takes determination, discipline, and a willingness to grow to improve. You don’t have to be shy and hide yourself from the rest of the world. Who knows? You might naturally be good at it!
Photo Credit: Bruno Cordloll
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