Networking is an effective means of business development. But many folks are intimidated by the prospect of walking into a room full of strangers and initiating conversations.
In my early days of networking, I dreaded the thought of going to a networking event. Often I would go to an event, stand in the corner for an hour or two and then go home defeated. I was never going to be the kind of person to naturally work a room.
Networking Tips – Planning a Strategy
I needed a plan. I figured out the business organization I wanted to become involved in and joined the Board. This did two things for me – at the very least when I walked into their networking events I would know my fellow board members – it was no longer a room of strangers. Secondly, it created visibility and people approached me and not me having to make the first move.
As a board member, I wanted to make life easier for the non-networkers like myself. It became policy that board members would seek out the corner dwellers, break the ice and when possible introduce the newcomer to other members.
That approached worked for me, it may not be possible for you. Another idea is to agree to attend with a friend or colleague. That way you don’t have to walk in alone. Ultimately, it is about breaking the
Recently, I was meeting with a client (who I met through networking) and she was expressing frustration that her staff didn’t embrace networking more. I asked if she had taken the staff to networking events that she attended. Of course. I asked if at those events if she was the prime communicator and if the staff person faded into the background. AH…
While the staff had gone to the events, they weren’t really networking. They weren’t initiating conversations. They weren’t pitching the company. They were simply supporting players at best. I suggested she once again join them in networking events but let the subordinate lead. Let the staff person “network” and she could be their support.
Networking is daunting for many. Especially, if you are not the sell ice to an Eskimo type. But like anything else, it is a skill that can develop with a little practice. And if you see someone alone in the corner, break the ice – you’ll be doing them a favor.