Networking events are a great way to get your business name out there, build a network 😉 of contacts, or even get free dinner. But mostly the first two. While great resources, networking is intimidating for some. So, here’s a few tips that have helped me get out there and mingle.
- Set small goals. You don’t need to talk to everyone in the room. Try to meet 3 new people, or have just one really great conversation.
- Plan ahead. Prepare some ice breakers, memorize your elevator speech, and decide on some open-ended questions to ask (just be ready to answer them in return).
- Don’t stay for the whole event. 20 minutes and a free drink is better than not showing up at all. It’s okay to leave when you want to. Set a time limit for yourself or leave once your goal is accomplished. If you feel like staying later, great.
- Have a position or task. Ask the host if you can help manage the check in table. You’ll meet a lot of people, but won’t have to worry about awkward silences or keeping the conversation going.
- Practice. Present your elevator speech to friends or family, attend smaller events first, or go to events that you won’t/will know anyone at (depends on your preference).
- Calm down. You don’t have to talk the entire time – just add in relevant insights to ongoing conversations. If you’re a fidgeter, find something to keep your hands busy (without looking nervous).
- Don’t overthink it. Chances are other people are wondering how they look too much to judge you on how you look. Things that you’re nervous about, others are, too.
- Ask. Tell your chamber representative that you’re shy and would appreciate being introduced to someone. We would love it you told us! Not only are you helping us be better, but we just love any excuse to get a conversation going.
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