How to deal with networking nerves
in just 5 lines and a poem
If you suffer from networking nerves, this short Insight might be exactly what you need.
You can, of course, read whole books on the ‘so-called’ art and science of networking…
… but seriously, is there really that much to this?
I’m assuming that you’ve done your homework on the event and on the people attending it.
So, you believe it’s the right place for you to be – to achieve some of your networking goals.
The key question is, how do you go about approaching people in a way that won’t make you feel nervous…
… or ‘tacky’ for trying to sell.
Well, here’s my advice in 5 lines
Ask open questions – few do this.
Listen, carefully, to the answers – very few do this.
And follow up after the event, even if there’s nothing in it for you – only the most successful do this.
Yep, that’s pretty much it.
Just be careful not to go ‘too deep’ with your questions at your first meeting.
The science of relationships (from Dr Desmond Morris) shows how we need time (and a few stages) to build bonds with others.
And this applies to our business as well as our personal lives.
So, if you’re a coach or adviser of some sort (and there’s a clear demand for your work) then your target audience will reveal their challenges to you if you listen well to them.
It just might take more time and more contacts than you expected when you started out in business.
People need time (and evidence) to build trust in us.
But what about your ‘pitch’?
Well, what about it? !!
Does anyone really want to hear it – at a first meeting at a networking event?
I guess they might expect to – if that’s how the event is organised… and I know a lot are.
But, if you manage to ‘engage’ the other person in a conversation that interests them, they’ll either invite you to tell them what you do…
… or, and more usefully, they’ll tell you something about themselves or their business…
… and that might very well be something that you (or someone you know) could help them with.
Providing a service is, after all, helping the customer right?
Help the other person to talk
Just remember, that few people (including you and me) ever get bored with a conversation where they do all the talking.
So, being the person who helps others do that (and listening to them) is secret number 1 to Face to Face selling as we saw here.
So, relax, take the pressure off yourself.
Just say ‘hello’… with a smile of course, and invite others to talk.
Oh, and if they beat you to it (because they’ve read this Insight too!) … and ask YOU what you do first…
… well, just keep your message short – very short…
… and powerful of course.
There’s an art to writing a good short pitch, and if you want help with that – give me a shout.
For now, just be sure to say your ‘bit’ quickly, gently and with confidence…
… and then ‘flip’ the conversation back onto the other person and their interests.
Okay, but what about that poem?
Right, well if you struggle to keep other people talking (and telling you more about them) then you probably need to use more open questions.
So, remember this advice from Rudyard Kipling – and you won’t go far wrong.
It’s only when you know something about the people you meet (at networking events – or anywhere else, including online) that you’ll see how to help them with your services.
You really can’t help someone if you don’t understand them or their problems, can you?
So, the best place to start is in learning how to learn about others with simple open questions.
And, like most of the best ideas – this is not new either.
Here’s the full poem from c.1900 by Rudyard Kipling
I Keep Six Honest Serving Men
I KEEP six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.
I send them over land and sea,
I send them east and west;
But after they have worked for me,
I give them all a rest.
I let them rest from nine till five,
For I am busy then,
As well as breakfast, lunch, and tea,
For they are hungry men.
But different folk have different views;
I know a person small—
She keeps ten million serving-men,
Who get no rest at all!
She sends’em abroad on her own affairs,
From the second she opens her eyes—
One million Hows, two million Wheres,
And seven million Whys!
Now, I’m not saying it’s easy to ask broad open questions with confidence – but I know everyone can do it – with practice and coaching.
And we certainly shouldn’t worry too much about what others are thinking of us.
After all, most are too busy worrying about themselves, to do so 🙂
So, let’s just work with that fact and concentrate on the other person… rather than worrying about what others think of us.
And good luck out there.
Need coaching help?
To learn more about coaching, to see if it could benefit you … and to learn what a good coach looks like and differs from the rest… read this Insight.
Then, if you’d like 1-2-1 coaching help, to develop your sales and marketing skills…
… or some help in thinking through another challenge you’re facing at the moment give me a shout here
I’ll always do my best to help if I’m available.
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