If you are an introvert and an entrepreneur, then this may sound like a torture for you: Attending a networking event.
On the other hand, if you are a flamboyant extrovert, then attending such events is something which you look forward to. But being an introvert, attending networking event, awards night or any such similar event is a big no-no.
But, let us admit: This is a valid business requirement as well. Such networking events provides an enormous platform to find, discover and connect with those whom you are seeking. They can be your potential customer, that hot-shot media baron, your new dependable vendor or a new employee.
So, how to solve the problem? How to attend an event, and connect with the like-minded people, without being embarrassed or feel sorry?
Here are 5 steps, which will help you to overcome this barrier, once for all:
1. Shed Inhibitions & Assumptions Before Entering The Event
The biggest obstacle which a shy, introvert person (an entrepreneur, a professional) faces before any networking event is their assumption and inhibitions. You simply cannot avoid it, if you have been an introvert all your life. But yes, you can learn to dismiss them, gradually.
Remember, the people out there are not existing to eat you alive, or to make fun of you. They are present at the event to make connections, just like you. Be mentally prepared that networking is a fun activity, and it will make you a better entrepreneur and a better person.
With this positive approach, enter the event, and change everything about your own self.
2. Start With A Firm Handshake and Say A Hi
Once you are inside the event, then remember this fact: Everyone is a stranger, yet, everyone is an acquaintance. Every person present there has come to the event to grow his/her network, to be friends with the other person.
Once you identify a particular person, go ahead, and offer a firm handshake. Compliment them on their speech (if that person has just spoken), or their recent social media post (if you can identify that person), or a plain old hi.
Introduce yourself, and start a conversation. Feel light, free and without any guilt or scare. If you have handshaked and said a hi, then 80% of the task is over.
Congratulations, you have become a networker!
3. Remember The Names
During the conversation, always make an effort to remember the names of the person. When you meet next time, or say while having dinner, calling out a person by his/her name is always a positive sign. When you remember the name of a person, then that person will feel obliged to remember your name as well, and a bond, a relationship starts from that point onwards.
In fact, during the conversation as well, try to repeat his/her name, which will induce a new form of connection, and give both of you a new level of confidence.
4. Listen & Show Interest
While speaking with a stranger, there are two things which you need to do for a successful conversation: Listen and then speak; and while listening, show interest in what the other person is saying or trying to express.
If you only speak consistently, and don’t allow the other person to speak, then it becomes a one-way conversation, which will surely die a slow death. On the other hand, when you allow the other person to speak, and when you show interest in what he or she is trying to say, then it becomes a uni-directional conversation, benefiting both the parties.
5. Share A Story
A human mind is wired to remember stories. When conversing with a stranger at an event, try to share a story – story about your life, your business, your profession, your neighborhood, your city or the event itself. Learn to become a storyteller, because this is one skill which will help you forever; be it your business, networking or life in general.
During a networking event, the point of sharing a story is to make a place in that person’s mind. The story will connect you with that person instantly, even if you forget to share your visiting card.
In fact, your story shall be your visiting card for that evening.
Some other general tips while attending any networking event:
- If you are feeling too intimidated, and afraid to approach a stranger, then take help from a mutual acquaintance or a connector. You can ask the host of the event, or a business associate for the same.
- Whatever you say or do, be sincere. If you are giving a compliment, then don’t be dishonest. If you are sharing a story, then be truthful. You don’t need to impress the other person, you just need to be connected. And connections happen when there is honesty.
- Avoid being drunk during such public, networking event. No one likes a drunk, loudly speaking, and misbehaving person, anywhere. And when it comes to business events, then be extra careful. You may lose that prospect or a new vendor, just because of your drinking habit.
- Don’t be that person who shoves his/her visiting card to every visible person inside an event. Share your card selectively, only with those with whom you had a conversation or you feel that you will connect in future for any task. And, if you have asked for the visiting card from any person, then do make a follow-up next day. Always.
Being introvert or extrovert is just a state of mind.
Enjoy the networking event, and make an impact, without any fear or inhibitions. The world is waiting for you.