Networking Power Tips – 10 Productive Trade Show Tactics

Business-building, Job or career search, Miscellaneous, Networking 101 - The Basics, Networking as a marketing strategy, Networking for sales success, networking tips No Comments

I still remember my first trade show experience. It felt like I was walking the gauntlet with caged animals on either side trying to get at me. Ok, so I say this in jest, but it does sometimes feel like this.

Trade shows are usually busy, pressure-packed events. There is a limited amount of time and a lot to see. You can maximize your return on invested time if you follow these tips:

1.Have clear, written objectives. Most trade shows have hundreds of vendors and booths. Invest time before arriving to decide which have the highest potential for you and list the reasons you are attending the show.

2. Have a product positioning statement. Communicating effectively in this fast-paced environment is essential. Prepare a short statement that identifies your target market, the top benefit of your product/service and the result of doing business with you.

3. Meet, greet & move on. Trade show networking is not conducive to long conversations. Your dialogue needs to be focused, short and to the point. Be prepared to exchange a few sentences, get a business card and move on.

4. Have 3 success stories. You will be meeting new contacts as well as renewing old ones. Be prepared to answer “What’s new?” Have a success story about you, about your company and your business.

5. Have 3 questions. As you meet others, you will have the opportunity to find out information. Be prepared to ask “What’s new?” and make it easier for them by specifically asking about them, their company and their business.

6. Carry breath mints. You will be spending a lot of time talking with a lot of people up close and personal. Because so much depends on your first impression, keep breath mints handy. It’s not if you’ll need them but when you’ll need them. (Others will too!).

7. Get business cards. You will never be able to remember all the people, faces and names. It’s essential that you get a business card when talking with others. Develop a specific location to store incoming cards so you don’t hand them out by mistake.

8. Write info down. Because it will be difficult, if not impossible, to remember specifics about conversations ask permission to write on a person’s card while you’re speaking with them. It will make your follow up much easier.

9. Carry extra cards. One of the most common mistakes at trade shows is to run out of business cards. Bring extra and hand out a couple to each contact. If you run out, ask for your contact’s card and write your information on it.

10. Timely follow up. As soon as you can after the show, sit down with your business cards, and organize and prioritize your contacts. Make follow up calls within 48 hours of the show to maximize your return on invested time.

Want to get better at maximizing your next trade show? Email me at info@NetworkingForResults. to receive a free copy of my Trade Show Tactics Executive Summary.


Michael J. Hughes is a recognized authority on utilizing networking as a business strategy. To find out more about him, or to have him present at your next meeting or conference, contact him at his web site at www.NetworkingForResults.com

Networking Power Tips: 9 Ways to Keep a Conversation Alive.

building relationships, Building trust, Business-building, Job or career search, Networking 101 - The Basics, Networking as a marketing strategy, Networking for sales success, networking tips No Comments

Events offer many conversational opportunities. It’s easy and comfortable to chat with colleagues and friends but, sometimes, you end up in an interaction with someone new. These conversations can hit speed bumps that can have an adverse effect .

Nothing is more awkward than lapses in the conversation, particularly in a one-on-one situation with a person you’ve just met. Here are some suggestions on how to keep conversation flowing and build feelings of trust and affinity.

Create a comfortable atmosphere. Most people open up when they feel at ease. Strive to quickly make others feel comfortable around you. Focus on the other person first, ask probing questions, smile a lot and be sincerely curious about them.

Take responsibility for the conversation. Most people are unsure and anxious when meeting another person. Give them some help by being pro-active and starting the conversation. Introduce yourself, shake hands and ask their name.

Use S.A.F.E. questions. Start a conversation using gentle probing questions that relate to both of you. The situation you’re in (networking event), any activities that are obvious (golf shirt), family (children, holidays) or current events (hockey).

Be curious about others. We all respond to someone who is naturally curious. Being sincerely curious about others will help them talk more openly about themselves, their situation and their lives.

Ask about others first. Asking about others before talking about ourselves requires discipline and is an expression of maturity. It demonstrates a respect for the other person that is immediately obvious and appreciated

Express a sincere interest. It is extremely important to demonstrate that we are actively interested and involved in the conversation. Active listening, eye contact and positive body language all contribute to help others know we care about their responses.

Keep the conversation focused. Try to stay on one topic, extending the conversation until all the information about that area has been discussed. In many cases you will quickly discover another point of discussion to move to.

Listen and watch their level of comfort or stress. People will normally become more comfortable as their level of stress diminishes. Getting them talking usually accelerates this process. Once they feel more comfortable, conversation will become easier.

Make a perceptive statement. Most people will give you strong clues about their inner  thoughts, feelings and emotions, even during a short conversation. By making a comment on the other person’s feelings you can demonstrate genuine interest.

You will be amazed at the information you can elicit from a new networking partner in a 30-second chat by prompting the conversation. It’s not about what you say, it’s about what they tell you.


Michael Hughes is known as North America’s Networking Guru. Find out more about his programs and services, or to book him for your next meeting or conference, at www.NetworkingForResults.com.

 

7 Biggest Networking Myths & Facts

business-building, Business-building, Networking 101 - The Basics, Networking for sales success, networking tips No Comments

The real issue about networking is that it’s easy to convince yourself not to do it. There will always be an excuse, argument or urban legend you can use to justify your lack of success. Which of these myths have you embraced?

Myth #1: Networking doesn’t work for me, my product, my service.
The networking process works for just about everyone, every product and every service because it focuses on a relationship. Relationships are the core of business success. Networking for results, as a business strategy, is still the single most effective way to build your business because it takes advantage of the natural process of human inter-action. Either building on existing relationships or as a starting point for new relationships, networking is one of the most powerful tools to develop your business or your career.

Myth #2: Networking is easy.
Nothing of value is ever easy. Every worthwhile endeavor requires awareness, skill and practice. Because being successful at networking involves increased understanding of human interaction, selling/relationship skills and business strategy. It’s a developmental process. Networking for results is a continuous learning process of evaluating what is working, what is not working and finding alternatives that improve results.

Myth #3: Networking success is immediate.
There is a misconception that business should flow immediately upon meeting a new person. One fifteen- to thirty-second conversation will rarely bring immediate results. When was the last time you agreed to pay money for a product or service after meeting someone at a luncheon? Financial investments take a long time to mature and pay dividends but when they do, the payback is usually much higher than the initial commitment. Networking is no different. Networking for results means recognizing that relationships require time and effort to build trust and respect.

Myth #4: Networking is about pushing product.
Networking involves a business perspective. The most successful salespeople realize that selling is a people business, not a product business. They know that people buy people first, ideas second and things last. Networking for results focuses on developing relationships through a sincere interest in helping others. Once people feel comfortable with you, they will listen to your ideas and want to hear about your product or service.

Myth #5: Networking is handing out business cards.
Handing out 35 business cards at a business meeting will rarely get your telephone ringing. In fact, most business cards are thrown out. Handing out business cards is not effective networking. The practise of handing out a business card is only effective when people can relate it to you. Networking for results means focusing on meeting a small number of people who will ask for your card because they perceive a need or benefit.

Myth #6: Networking is meeting as many people as possible.
The quantity of people we meet at a networking function usually is in direct proportion to our ability to do business. Meeting fewer people means taking time to get to know who they are, what they do and what their pain and passions are. Networking for results means understanding that selling is a one-on-one activity and focuses on getting an intimate knowledge of a few individuals to find ways to help them.

Myth #7: Networking is attending as many events as possible.
Networking works best with a strategic approach. Your credibility grows faster within a group than across groups. Joining fewer groups, even just one, and committing to it will always deliver more results faster. As members become more aware of your professionalism, integrity and value, they will be happy to buy from you or refer you.

Want more and better results from your networking efforts? Visit www.NetworkingForResults.com and download a complimentary copy of my 12-page ebook Managing the Networking Process today.


Michael Hughes is known as North America’s Networking Guru. To find out more about him and have him share his powerful and practical message and your next meeting or conference, email him at info@NetworkingForResults.com

 

 

 

 

 

12 Networking Hacks that Dramatically Drive Results.

building relationships, Business-building, follow up, Job or career search, Networking 101 - The Basics, Networking as a marketing strategy, Networking for sales success, networking tips No Comments

Networking is an activity that every professional is involved in, both formally and informally. How can you accelerate the results you want and need? Here are the top networking hacks you can use to help you minimize your effort and maximize your results.

1. Find the 5% that matter. Networking, in its purest form, is a strategic exercise. Knowing who to connect with allows you to zero in on the highest probability candidates for your product/service (about 5% of any network), allowing you to meet the right people by design as opposed to by default.

2. Be in the right circle. One of the biggest networking myths is that activity drives results. In reality, focus is the most effective factor in determining success. If you’re in the right network, you will eventually find people who want your product or service, even if networking isn’t your strength.

3. Use verbal judo. In martial arts, technique is more important than strength. It’s how a seemingly weak athlete can easily take down and submit a stronger opponent. You can do the same during a conversation by using “Tell me about…” It takes all the pressure off you and opens a conversational void most are happy to fill.

4. Cultivate this quality. One of the most powerful personal characteristics is sincere curiosity. It will separate you from the pack and help others perceive you as more personable and professional. It’s simple, but it isn’t easy. It takes intention, being in the moment and paying attention to a conversation partner.

5. Get the right ammo. Your key objective when networking is to get the other person’s contact info. It’s your most powerful ammunition to keep the relationship moving forward. Others anticipate and expect it, and will think you more professional for asking.

6. Find a link and leverage it. Even the briefest networking conversation can be converted into a relationship. All you need to do is listen better and ask more questions. Then, when you hear a topic or area that links you both, use it as a lever to re-connect and push the relationship forward.

7. Realize what others are really asking. Almost every networking conversation includes the question ”What do you do?” You need to realize that what the other person really wants to know is your value, not your life story. Prepare a 15-word elevator pitch that communicates your target market, primary benefit and the results you provide.

8. Cut to the chase. Most professionals have no idea how to communicate their value. Many will ramble incoherently about information that only confuses and annoys. You can bypass this whole issue by asking “Who are you looking to connect with?” It immediately unlocks the right info.

9. Eliminate the rejection factor. The single biggest business-related networking issue is failure to follow up. In fact, over 90% of professionals say they do no follow up (mostly due to fear of rejection). Minimize this effect by asking “Can I follow up?” before the conversation ends.

10. Shorten the leash. While networking can ignite a relationship, it cannot sustain one. On-going contact does that. That’s why following up is crucial. The sooner you re-connect with a conversation partner (ideally within 6-12 hours), the easier the relationship process will accelerate.

11. Hedge your bets. It is a fact that not every person you meet will do hire, refer or do business with you. However, if you can discover a way to contribute to their business life, they will remember you and work on your behalf. Use the five minute rule to help you take action when you see an opportunity to contribute: If it can be done in five minutes, do it now.

12. Take the long view. Relationships take time, need to be nurtured and require investment. Commit to growing a relationship for 90 days without expectation of reward. Then evaluate your situation and either re-commit or cut bait.

Remember: Networking is a skill-based activity. These twelve hacks can help you accelerate your networking success, but they also involve skills that take time to develop. Which one should you work on this week to drive your networking results?


Michael Hughes is known as North America’s Networking Guru. To get more info about his services or to have him speak at your next meeting or conference, visit his web site at www.NetworkingForResults.com

 

8 Guidelines on Receiving Feedback from Others.

Building trust, Business-building, Miscellaneous, Networking as a marketing strategy, Networking for sales success, networking tips No Comments

As an professional, entrepreneur or executive, one of your characteristics should be a willingness to grow and learn. One of the best ways to do this is through feedback from others. This information could be a response to your specific request or through unsolicited comments.

The problem with feedback is that it is subjective, carrying both the opinion and perspective of the other person. Sometimes, it can be difficult to hear comments from others and keep an open mind, even though you know you should. Use these feedback guidelines to help keep you focused and positive:

1.Become more objective. Every person has her/his opinion about any topic. It’s important to recognize that statements and comments in a conversation are usually made in a general context. Try not to become too emotionally involved in the comments of others, especially when they refer to issues that affect you.

2. Don’t ask if you don’t want to know. Sometimes we ask for feedback, yet aren’t psychologically or emotionally prepared to deal with the information. Recognize that if you ask for feedback you’ll get it, and it may not be something you will enjoy.

3. Listen. When others offer their opinion or perspective, have the courage and the courtesy to listen to their complete response. Remember that they’re giving you the benefit of their view of the situation, event or discussion. Listen to learn by appreciating the information you are receiving.

4. Say thank you. No matter what the comments are, offer a sincere “thank you” when your conversation partner has finished. This allows you to acknowledge the other person’s remarks without committing you to accept them. This neutral response also allows you time to review and assess the information received before commenting.

5. Dig deeper. One last important point in dealing with feedback is to expand your understanding of the other person’s comments. The two biggest barriers to effective communication are perception and semantics. Eliminate both by asking follow up questions to clarify your understanding of the information offered.

6. Review their qualifications. Before responding to feedback, invest a moment to review the qualifications of the individual making the statement. Ask yourself how qualified they are to make such a remark on this topic. This may allow you to immediately disqualify their words as mere conversation instead of taking them seriously.

7. Question their intent. When receiving feedback, it’s extremely important to assess the intent of the other person. Were their remarks intended to be helpful or hurtful? This simple question can go a long way towards helping you gauge the value of the information shared by your conversation partner.

8. The three feedback questions to ask yourself:
1. Am I prepared to accept feedback at this time? (say thank you anyway)
2. What are this person’s qualifications to offer feedback on this area?
3. What is this person’s intent in offering feedback (to be helpful or hurtful)

Every conversation, presentation or discussion is an opportunity to learn and grow. Are you investing in yourself by having the courage to ask for feedback? Most people will appreciate being asked. Are you looking for more support in this area? Email me at info@NetworkingForResults.com. Let’s chat. I can help.


Michael Hughes is known as THE Networking Guru. To find out more about him and receive a complimentary copy of his ebook “Managing the Networking Experience,” visit his web site at www.NetworkingForResults.com.

 

I made her cry, yet she still thanked me!

building relationships, Business-building, Miscellaneous, Networking as a marketing strategy, Networking for sales success, networking tips No Comments

In the fall of 2014, I was engaged to deliver a workshop in eastern Canada. A few weeks prior to the event I received an email from someone in that city. She was a successful entrepreneur interested in building a speaking business.  She wanted to meet with me about this dream. This isn’t an unusual request and I am always happy to share my experience and expertise.

We met after my session and I spent about 30 minutes with her. She was bright, enthusiastic and quite excited about pursuing her speaking career. She had some specific questions about the speaking business and her direction. I felt I was polite, professional and supportive. I walked away feeling good about the conversation.

Three months later, my wife and I attended a speakers’ conference. Arriving the evening before, we decided to grab a drink and catch up with a number of my speaker friends. Walking into the lobby, the first person we met was this same young lady, who was chatting with two colleagues. When we introduced ourselves, she promptly announced to the group “This is the man who made me cry.”

I must admit to being taken aback by the comment. My wife was looking at me as if to say “what did you do to this nice young lady?” I was speechless as she recounted the details our meeting. She said that my questions put her into a state of high anxiety and, rushing back to her car, she broke into tears. She phoned her local business mentor and tearfully shared her experience.

She did admit that our meeting forced her to come to terms with some difficult decisions she had been contemplating, not the least of which was to attend the conference. She ended her diatribe by saying she was much better off for our conversation and appreciated my comments. I walked away feeling somewhat better but still a little depressed about the whole encounter.

My young protégée ended up sharing her story a number of times over the course of the conference. I got comments from colleagues who mentioned similar recollections after having had a mentoring conversation with me. By the end of the conference, I accepted the fact that I have a tendency to, when asked, find the right question or identify the right direction, even if it’s not what others want to hear.

Last week, the same young lady in the story above sent me the following email message.
SUBJECT LINE: All thanks to you.
Michael,
Thank you for making me cry. It made me realize that I needed to concentrate more on the speaking aspect of my business. Although I am sure you didn’t intend to upset me, you gave me the push that I needed to get going. I am proud that since I met you I have accomplished:
–          Registered my speaking business
–          Use a CRM online system
–          Joined CAPS!!
–          Designed a website: www.kristatwalsh.com
–          Designed a Facebook page
–          Raised my rate
–          Wrote a keynote
–          Incorporated my keynote into my Networking sessions
–          Booked four sessions this month with more to come.
I can’t thank you enough. I am excited, motivated and truly believe that I am taking the correct path for me.
Your kindness is appreciated.
Krista T. Walsh, CFCP

Are you stuck in your business or your career? Let’s talk. I may make you cry, but chances are you’ll walk away with an idea, insight or information that will propel you to the next level. Maybe we can even work together to help you get there.  Email me at info@NetworkingForResults.com with “CRY” in the subject to schedule a conversation

Networking Power Tips – Taking Charge of a Conversation

building relationships, Building trust, Job or career search, Networking 101 - The Basics, Networking as a marketing strategy, Networking for sales success, networking tips No Comments

Whether at a formal event or in an informal conversation, the axiom that you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression holds true. How can you maximize the early stages of a networking  interaction for greater personal and professional impact? Here are some strategies to help you use this important relationship phase to build rapport, increase trust and engage your conversation partner.

Feel confident that others will like and accept you. It’s natural to feel anxious when meeting others. Yet, in reality, most people are just like you. They want to meet new friends and will be happy you chose them to speak with. Remind yourself of this every time you enter a networking function. In fact, you should take a few moments before arriving to create a positive mental attitude about meeting others. This alone can have a huge impact on your conversations.

Realize the stress on others. An initial contact is usually the most stressful time for most people. When you take charge of the conversation you help others by giving them a direction. This immediately reduces stress and anxiety. By taking responsibility for engaging your conversation partner, you immediately make the experience more pleasant and positive for her/him.

Play the host/hostess role. Have you ever hosted a party? How did you welcome new arrivals? By assuming a host/hostess mentality, you will tend to be more pro-active in engaging others. Introducing yourself and starting a conversation or introducing new arrivals to others all contribute to helping others feel more comfortable and enhance their feelings of trust about us.

Smile.  “The smile is the window to the soul”. When you smile you’re whole face lights up. It shows others you are a positive person. It attracts others and makes them feel comfortable around you. A sincere smile will always be your most powerful resource in demonstrating to others that you are personable. Use it more often.

Look the other person in the eye. Eye contact is a powerful and positive trust-building strategy. It demonstrates to others that they have our full attention and, on a deeper level, that we care enough to listen to their words. To maximize this technique, look into the other person’s eyes until you determine their color.

Introduce yourself. Most people have a brain-freeze moment when meeting an new conversation partner. Others just aren’t sure what to do. Taking the initiative to start the conversation gets the ball rolling and offers a specific starting point. Most people will respond with their name, and if they don’t, it’s almost natural to ask.

Offer your hand. The handshake is the only acceptable form of physical contact between two strangers in our society. Shaking hands is perceived as an act of friendship that dates back thousands of years. In addition, it creates a physical bond with the other person. This also gives the other person an action to perform, which reduces stress and anxiety.

Be aware of your body language. When we first meet another person, we read all their communication levels almost simultaneously as they do the same. Because networking is a high-stress activity, many people are prone to excessive gestures or words, sometie4ms without even being aware of it. Less body movement has more impact, projecting a sense of confidence. Fewer words have more impact. In both cases, less is more.

Recognize the impact of your voice.  The tone of your voice can have a major impact in making others feel at ease. Sounding gentle and sincere can greatly help to make your initial contact a positive experience for others. A softer tone of voice will always make you seem more personable and positive to others. It invites a cordial conversation and implies competence.

One size does not fit all. Although these suggestions are proven and practical, it’s imperative that you be aware that each conversation is unique and individual and must be customized to both your conversation partner the environment you are in. Today’s multi-cultural busies environment may mean that you need to adapt your strategy to accommodate the other person’s background or culture.


Michael Hughes is known as THE Networking Guru. To find out more about him and receive a complimentary copy of his ebook “Managing The Networking Experience”, visit his web site at www.NetworkingForResults.com.

Networking with Millenials – Hey Teacher! Leave those kids alone.

Business-building, Guru thoughts on life, Job or career search, Networking as a marketing strategy, Networking for sales success, networking tips No Comments

I’ve been sitting on the sidelines, reviewing with great interest the negative comments being heaped on our next generation of professionals: they’re rebellious, they don’t listen, they can’t communicate, they’re too focused on technology, they don’t have adequate people skills, etc, etc.

I’ve been interacting with young professionals for the last twenty years. I find today’s young people just as positive, personable and enthusiastic as ever. That being said, we need to accept that, in many cases, the enemy is us.

Not better or worse, just different. Young people have always been at the forefront of change. This new crop of executives, entrepreneurs and career professionals represent our future. I love listening to them. I enjoy interacting with them. Stop seeing them as problem children or rebels. Accept that they are different. Accept that they will have different ideas and ideals. This is good for us all.

It’s not about the technology. Yes, the younger generation has grown up embracing technology. It’s an integral part of their lives. It has contributed to accelerating their knowledge capacity, expanded their mindset and liberated them from limiting beliefs. Stop focusing on their obsession with technology. Instead, invest more time learning how they benefit from it. They’ll love you for it.

It is all about communication. There is a misconception that because young professionals use technology more to communicate, they aren’t competent communicators. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, their social skills incorporate a wider range of options due to their expanded communication options. It’s not a drawback, it’s a benefit. Once you see it this way, you can embrace their environment and maximize it.

No one is “entitled.” I keep hearing that young professionals have a sense of entitlement. And why wouldn’t they? They live in a world that offers them unparalleled opportunity and unlimited potential , yet we want them to wait until the time is right. Now who’s falling back on a sense of entitlement? It’s time accept that young professionals have a sense of urgency and that part of our obligation is to help them move forward (whether we like it or not).

The last word. I have accepted that today’s young professionals aren’t to be resented or rebuked. I seek them out. I work to discover their aspirations and their frustrations. I invest in assisting them in their journey. After all, someone did that for me years ago. It’s time for us to stop seeing the next generation (whether called Millennials, Gen Xrs) as an impediment to progress when they are really the engine of our future success.

Why aren’t we more accepting of these motivated and assertive young people who care enough to question the status quo and clamor for the change we all know is required to succeed? Whatever they choose to call you, I’m here with you. I’d love to hear from you.

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Michael Hughes is known as THE Networking Guru. To find out more about him and receive a complimentary copy of his ebook “Managing The Networking Experience”, visit his web site at www.NetworkingForResults.com.

Networking Power Tips- Guidelines to Joining Conversations.

Networking 101 - The Basics, Networking for sales success, networking tips No Comments

One of the most difficult networking challenges for some people is joining in an existing conversation. Check the guidelines below and use the four-step strategy to make this issue less stressful.

Appreciate group dynamics. A group represents a set of personalities who have determined a common reason for being together. To be accepted, it’s essential you respect and understand their environment.

Respect group size. Smaller groups, usually groups of two, tend to foster more intimate conversations while larger groups of three or more are normally more open and easier to access. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t join a conversation between two people, only that you should be aware of their specific nature. Use group body language to help you identify when you can approach these small groups.

Observe body language. You’ll also notice that some groups stand closer together, almost forming a closed circle, while other groupings are looser and seem to leave an opening. The “semi-circle” groups usually indicate a more open environment and are easiest to join.

Use a Strategy. Joining a conversation can be a pleasant experience. Use the following four-step process to help you become part of any group conversation with minimal stress.
1. Approach: After observing group dynamics and deciding which group to join, slowly and confidently approach them. Stand on the edge of the group, either at the edge of the “semi-circle” or at the outside of the cluster and ease forward as others become accustomed to your presence.
2. Body language: Use eye contact, smile and nod to acknowledge each person you connect with. Keep body movements to a minimum. Pay attention to the conversation, focusing on each speaker to quickly become part of the group.
3. Feedback: Demonstrate active listening by leaning towards each speaker, offering positive feedback through comments and questions. This is an effective technique to have others feel more comfortable with you and build trust within the group.
4. Participate: When it’s appropriate, become more assertive in your participation in the group conversation. This usually happens when someone asks you a question pertaining either to the conversation or about you.

Be patient. Joining a group conversation is an opportunity to create and develop relationships. This is a process that takes, time effort and discipline. You can quickly and easily feel more at ease when joining a conversation if you are prepared to slow the process down and give others a chance to accept you at their own pace.


Michael Hughes is THE Networking Guru. Receive a FREE copy of his 13-page ebook Managing The Networking Process at www.NetworkingForResults.com

Networking Power Tips: 11 Networking Confidence Builders

building relationships, Building trust, Business-building, Generating referrals, Job or career search, Miscellaneous, Networking 101 - The Basics, Networking as a marketing strategy, Networking for sales success, networking tips No Comments

Does your blood pressure rise at the mere thought of attending a networking event? Are you nervous about carrying on conversations with new contacts? You’re not alone.

Many people have great difficulty simply meeting others. There can be any number of reasons for this, all of which are real. Here are some strategies to help you build your confidence about going to the next networking event.

1. Clarify your issue. Become more aware of why you have difficulty meeting others. Is it a lack of self-confidence? Are you uncomfortable because you feel you must use networking to “sell”? Are you simply unsure of what to do or say? By addressing the reason for your discomfort, you can improve how you deal with the situation.

2. Re-enforce the value. Accept that meeting others is one of the most effective ways to get more business or advance your career. By attending the event you will be giving others the opportunity to become more informed about you and your value. By increasing your sense of value you will feel more confident in meeting others.

3. Change your mindset. Emphasize the social aspect of networking rather than feeling you must find and qualify prospects or new career opportunities. Focus on making friends instead of doing business. This will take away a lot of your anxiety while giving you essentially the same results.

4. Set an objective. Once you have made the decision to attend a networking event, invest in setting a clear objective. This will help keep you focused as you meet and talk with others. It will also give you a basis for which to measure your networking success.

5. Prepare for success. If you know you have difficulty developing conversations, why not plan to reduce the chance of being in this situation. Meet up with a friend or bring along a colleague. You could also check with the host in advance to find out who else will be there (and create an important contact during the call).

6. Have a start-up strategy. Most conversations start the same way. Plan and practice the words and actions you will use until they become second nature. Here’s a simple structure for you: make eye contact, smile, offer your hand and introduce yourself. Practice this structure until it becomes a positive habit.

7. Go public. Tell others about your discomfort when you first meet them. You’ll find that many people feel the same way. Even if they don’t, they’ll usually go out of their way to help develop a conversation and you’ll feel better having shared this with them.

8. Shift the conversational focus. Sometimes the stress about meeting others comes from feeling we must carry the conversation. The most brilliant conversation partners are excellent listeners who ask the right questions. Strive to get others talking from the moment of contact. They will enjoy your company even more.

9. Have three questions to ask. Much of the stress we feel in meeting others comes from being unsure of what to say. Having questions ready that can act as conversation starters can reduce your anxiety as you make contact with another person. Every conversation has natural opportunities to ask about things like common issues, family or background.

10. Emphasize The “secret sauce.” The most powerful human bonding agent is context. When you steer the conversation into discovering areas of common interest, especially on a personal level, you accelerate your  sense of comfort and immediately feel more confident about yourself.

11. Develop your skills. Meeting others is part of your interpersonal skills tool kit. Everyone can develop these simple and effective skills. No matter what your level of confidence or competence, you can improve if you continually assess your performance and your results.


Michael Hughes is known as THE Networking Guru. To find out more about him and receive a complimentary copy of his ebook “Managing The Networking Experience”, visit his web site at www.NetworkingForResults.com.

« Previous Entries

Bottom of Page