Overcoming the 6 Major Misgivings about Networking
A number of us get anxiety when it comes to networking and meeting new people. Long term success with networking is not based on a trick, but on applying yourself naturally when good opportunities arise – and opportunities are all around us!
1. I don’t have time to network.
Another way to think about the time you invest in networking is that, as a business person, staying current in your field is mandatory. If you make networking part of an ongoing investment to keep up to date with the latest developments in your specialty, you can save time by marketing while attending business and professional activities. Networking also keeps you from feeling alone and isolated if much of your time is spent working alone.
2. I’m too shy to meet people in a large group.
Remember that everyone else in the room is shy too. Focus your attention on making others feel more at ease and show genuine interest in them with a warm smile. If that new contact doesn’t need your kind of product or service, at least you’ve made a new acquaintance. Rude people usually do not come to such meetings, so don’t think about that. Remember that smiling is contagious and that every time you do it, it gets a little easier.
3. It takes me away from my normal work.
Business is a social activity, an interaction between you and others. You can network anywhere you go – at the post office, at a family gathering, at a friend’s party, over lunch with a colleague, or while doing business with someone else. Keep a nice [business] card [or résumé] on you in case you see an opportunity. And opportunities are everywhere!
4. I don’t like to mix business with pleasure.
Think of networking events as business opportunities as much as they are social functions. The purpose of an organized networking party, for example, is business, however enjoyable that business may be. Many deals are made outside of the office because of this one question: “What do you do?” Enjoy the activities you are invited to, while recognizing the value of the event to the business community in general, and to your business in particular. This may help you enjoy the event all the more.
5. But I don’t want to be a pushy salesperson.
Networking is not selling. On the contrary, it is an offering of a genuine connection without the pressure of selling. Do not sell while networking. Any selling you do comes later. You already open the door to a sale by establishing a relationship. Simply give potentials your card and tell them you’d like to talk with them further in the future. Then get their cards and call them during business hours to set up an appointment in person or by phone.
6. I don’t like to sell, period.
We’ve already discussed that networking is not selling, and offers the foundation for a sale as well as the foundation for a continuing relationship. If you select your network group well, you already know the people present are in the market for what you have. This is usually a less cost than advertising and puts your face to your name. always remember to relax and have a good time while networking.
*And for the online community, these networking tools still apply when you are working the net!