How to nail your networking nerves

in 12 simple words (and a poem)

Nail your nerves

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 question is: How do you deal with your nerves about (and more importantly how do you go about) approaching people for the first time?

Well, here’s my advice in 12 words.

Smile 🙂

Say hello.

Ask open questions.

And listen, carefully, to the answers

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 in 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 that 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 more usefully) they’ll tell you something about themselves or their business that you (or someone you know) could help them with.

Remember, very few people ever get bored of a conversation where ‘they’ do all the talking.

And being the person who helps others do that is secret number 1 to Face to Face selling as we saw here.

Success in sales

So, relax, take the pressure off yourself . . .

. . . just say hello (with a smile) and invite others to talk.

Oh, and if they beat you to it – and ask YOU what you do first . . .

Then just keep it short – very short – and powerful of course.

Now there’s an art to writing a good short pitch – and we can come back to that another time.

But for now, just say your pitch, gently but with confidence, and then ‘flip’ the conversation back onto them 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 simply need to use more open questions. 

And if you remember this advice from Rudyard Kipling – you won’t go far wrong.

Rudyard Kipling

It’s only what 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 them.

Twain, worry less

And good luck out there.


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I’ll always do my best to help if I’m available.

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