Here’s the thing… When you are an entrepreneur (or even if you’re working as an employee of a company), networking is one of the core elements of your business. Because you need to be seen and heard in order to get noticed by your clients.
A lot of the people that I train in confidence and visibility, have a fear of speaking to groups. That can be a group of colleagues or clients, or a bigger audience on stage. I give them practical tools to stay centered, authentic and inspiring. The same tools apply in every other situation, like networking (or a demanding family situation) or on camera.
Earlier this year, I had a training with a group of men and one of them, let’s call him Mike, said he’s ok with speaking from stage, but when he afterwards needs to interact with people, he feels highly uncomfortable. He usually tends to either leave after a good 10 minutes, or just talk to the one person he already knows.
Can you relate to that?
It’s a shame though – as a speaker, a lot of the people in the room want to connect with you and by leaving early, you’re denying them that chance. But also when it is ‘just’ a networking meeting, where you did not speak at, speaking only to the people you know won’t get you new connections. Who either might want to work with you, or might know someone that wants to work with you…
Here are 5 tips to make it easier to go networking next time, so you won’t stay short or hide behind a cuppa coffee and the people you already know:
- Change your Mindset
Before you enter the room, take a moment to ground, breath deep and realise that a lot of people in the room are a bit uncomfortable, especially if they don’t know anybody else too. You are (litteraly) not alone!
- Be Curious
Be genuinly interested and curious about the other people in the room. That will take the focus off you (what will they think of me?!). Who would you like to meet? Who looks interesting? What is their story? When you’re open and curious like that, the fear has less place to appear.
- It’s not about the sale
When you talk to someone, focus on the connection between you two, not on the sale. Networking is never about selling, and realising that can take the pressure off. Of course it can happen that someone books an appointment with you, but that is rarely the case. Tell them more about yourself than just what you do and be interested in the story of the other person. It’s all about creating a connection.
- How can you help?
When you listen to the other person, constantly keep in mind ‘how can I help?’. And not by giving unsolicited advice, but by opening your network to that person – if you like the connection of course; you’ll also meet people where you feel less connected, and it’s ok to move on to another person then. But if you like the person you’re talking to, think about who in your network would probably be interested in his or her service. Can you introduce them to someone?
- Don’t tell them what you do
Now this might seem a contradiction to what networking is about… But ‘who are you and what do you do’ is one of the most dreaded approaches in networking situations. It can make even seasoned speakers stutter. What you do is often a short statement. Tell them WHY you do what you do instead. Your why is linked to your passion, inspiration and personal story. People remember that! So instead of saying: “Hi, I’m Elsewine and I am a Presence teacher and kinesiologist.”
I could say something like: “As a student I was SO afraid to speak in front of more than 3 people (like deer-in-headlight kinda afraid), that I often blacked out and could not remember what I said. Years later I had the same in front of a camera. Over the years, I’ve done a lot of training and discovered several solid tools to quickly overcome this fear and speak with confidence. I love helping others overcome this fear, so they can share their message and inspire others.”
The why, the story also gives them more ‘hooks’ to ask questions or share their experiences, and before you know it, you have a wonderful, inspiring conversation with someone you didn’t know before you entered that room…
When you exchange business cards and you invite the other person on linkedin, don’t use the standard text with one click, but take the time to type a short personal message what you liked about your conversation, or share a lead/tip based on what you talked about. It’s so much nicer to receive, plus they remember you better!
Elsewine Rietveld (www.elsewine.com) lives in the Netherlands. She’s a former deer-in-headlights as it comes to public speaking and making videos. She now is a Presence teacher and kinesiologist, as these are the things that helped her overcome her fear of speaking to people and camera’s and teaches them to others so they can do the same. She loves to hike, read and eat dark chocolate.
This fall, her online training Own Your Stage goes live. Here’s what some of the participants say about it:
- In each one of the 6 modules you are learning new techniques which are totally easy to apply. I loved these techniques because it’s not something you would read in a book. You can practice it all by yourself and you can literally use it always. When being on stage AND in your everyday life.
- Own Your Stage is a great way to learn how to feel more confident as a speaker, and to unblock any limiting beliefs that might be holding you back.
- It is unlike any other course I’ve been in. The bigger thing for me was realizing that I could use these techniques in my everyday life. I thought this course would help me be better on camera, but it offered so much more!
If you want to learn more about this amazing program, go to http://elsewine.com/vip-waitlist/ and sign up so you’re the first to get the updates or read more about the course on www.elsewine.com/courses