You’re probably wondering if I’ve gone crazy with this one. Yes, I still blog about networking and still teach a class about it. But I wanted to share something that came up in a conversation after a breakout session I did on, you guessed it, networking. One of the attendees asked me if networking was for everyone. My answer was that everyone can benefit from good networking but sometimes networking opportunities (as well as networking events) can be a waste of time, and in some cases, counterproductive.
Over the last few years I’ve met people that swear by social media saying that they never have to go to another in-person networking event. I’ve also met my share of people who feel that social media is merely a distraction with no real value. How do I feel? Well, given that I offer courses in both traditional networking and social media I’m sure you can tell that I believe there’s value in both. And like most things in life, where you get the most benefit will depend on your situation. I will say that completely discounting either method of making new connections is a mistake. I have had successes using both methods and I know many others that have as well.
You have a lot to say and are enthusiastic about what you have to say, yet you’re lacking one key ingredient — no one can understand you because you mumble. You may mumble and not even be aware of it — although a good indicator is when people are always asking you to repeat yourself because they didn’t hear or understand what you said.
Yesterday, we talked about how to get someone prepped for a conversation so today we’ll get to the meat of it – what to say. This is where many people find the most difficulty so let’s jump right into it.
5. Comment about the situation.
This is the essence of small talk. Mention the weather, make a comment about the place that you’re at, talk about the lengthy wait or whatever other reason you can think of that builds some commonality with the person you’re about to converse with. You’re both somewhere for a reason so if you’re waiting for a train, a doctor, service for your car or waiting in line, you both have that in common. If the weather is unusually nice or there’s something pleasant about the situation you’re in, mention that.
Shyness is one of those qualities that can stand in the way of your success. If you consider yourself shy, you’re far from alone. Meeting new people is the second biggest social fear (public speaking, of course, is number one). So how do you learn to overcome shyness? The same way you learn other skills – practice.
So if you want to deal with shyness, simply practice starting conversations with people. Yes, you could go to a business networking event which is the easiest place to learn how to start a conversation. But if you can’t get to such an event, all you need to do is be somewhere where there will be other people. So how do you start a conversation, here’s a few simple ways:
whicSpeed networking has to be one of the coolest trends for business events in recent years. It’s not only good for experienced networkers, but it’s the best thing to happen to nervous networkers. Even if you have no clue what to do at a networking event, you can walk away from a speed networking event with dozens of connects.
Speed networking is an event format that allows you to meet a lot of folks in a fixed amount of time (usually 30-90 minutes). You usually have two or three minutes to talk to your networking partner and then a whistle blows and it’s time to switch.
If you’re like most people, you probably feel some sort of discomfort speaking to groups or going up to someone you don’t know and introducing yourself. As you can imagine, you’re certainly not alone as you’d be surprised at how many people are deathly afraid of either of these situations. But the good news is that there are things that you can do to deal with your fears — and they’re not as scary as you might expect them to be.
Practice makes perfect: