For a lot of people the thought of networking frightens them to death. Why are so many afraid to network? For some the idea of striking up a conversation with a complete stranger cripples them. We don’t think we have anything to say, we are not going to be interesting to them, we may say something stupid, and other misconceptions. Because of these misconceptions we don’t network.
Keep in mind everyone you are meeting is doing the same thing you are, making connections with new people. They may have the same fears as you. So what do you do to overcome your fears? Take it 1% at a time. Go to a networking event with the goal of talking to just three people you don’t know. OK, sounds easy, what will you say to them? When you meet someone for the first time introduce yourself and ask them what they do. Now you become the active listener taking in everything they say. When they ask you what you do you have an advantage because you just learned a lot about this person who is no longer a stranger. Asking them questions gains you insight into what is important to them and as always we should be looking for ways you can help them. Come away with a business card and knowledge of a new found friend. The next step is to call them and set up a one on one meeting to explore how you could help each other. That takes us to the next fear, the follow up.
From my expexperiences this has to be the biggest problem for networkers. Why don’t we pick up the phone and call our new found friend to schedule a one on one? The fear of rejection. Let me ask you something, if this person does reject you what have you lost? Nothing, you have gained knowledge that your new found friend is not in the proper place for you to progress in a relationship. That doesn’t mean to get angry and throw away their business card, it means that you need to find a way to keep in touch with them even if it is just on social media. When the time is right you will make the connection.
Keep in mind that success is in the follow-up. For every new found friend we make how many new connections can be made. These are the people that will be eager to recommend people your way and you will do the same for them. They themselves may never be a customer or partner with you but in the end they will generate a lot of contacts for you and you for them.
So the challenge of the week is to get out of your box every day and talk to at least one person and do at least one face to face meetings. The only way to overcome a fear is to face them. Have a great and productive week.