I have said: “That’s OK, because these are just people you haven’t got to know yet”.
Then they say: “I am not very good at networking”, “I find that my hands are shaking or my voice goes all jittery”, “My legs were shaking”, “I just don’t have the confidence to go up to anyone when I arrive to speak to them”, “I don’t know what to say”.
The lack of confidence, for a lot of people, starts before they have even got to the networking meeting. In fact, quite a few of them have told me that they have done a really good job of talking themselves out of going. So they have not even turned up. Well then it’s no wonder they are not getting a return on their investment.
I was having a really great conversation with a lady called Sarah McCloughry, who runs an organisation called Anrah, and we were having a quiet laugh about this. I was saying at the first VA conference my lapel microphone was not working so I was asked to use a hand held mic. There were 120 people sat in the audience and the adrenalin was pumping round my body like mad. I actually felt a little bit emotional because I was overwhelmed that people had actually turned up. As a result my voice and hands were shaking and I thought “My goodness everyone is going to think I’m really nervous!” but actually it was the adrenaline. Sarah said, which I thought was quite a poignant remark, “but people mistake excitement for nerves or lack of confidence”.
So now think about some of the situations you have experienced where actually you were really excited but you may have been a bit shaky. Maybe your throat went a bit dry but actually it was excitement. Maybe think back to the first date you ever had, maybe you were a little bit nervous but you were really excited as well and so you got that little shakiness going.
So be very careful, because it could be that you are really excited about going to a networking event. You are excited about getting to know people, excited about standing up and saying something about your business.
“It starts off with your mindset.”
I have coached a lot of people around confidence. Having become a master in Neuro Linguistic Programming (or NLP) it’s amazing what you get to learn and the techniques that you get to use.
“Whether you think you can, or whether you think you can’t, then you are right.” Henry Ford
So what are you saying to yourself? Are you telling yourself, and other people, that you are terrible at networking, that you never know what to say, that you are not confident at networking, that you find it scary?
If this is the first ever networking meeting you are going to or the first group you are going to – where is the evidence that you are not good at networking?
I bet that you have been networking for a long time, more than you realise, as you have been doing it on a personal basis, maybe at a party or a wedding reception when you are speaking to people you don’t know. Perhaps you know some people there or you might sit at a table or be sat next to someone that you don’t know but you are friendly, just getting to know them. You ask them a bit about themselves, what they do for a living, you might notice they have children there, so you ask them about their children or you ask them about their business or their career.
We all do it. We all network in a personal sense but something turns a switch in a lot of us that says it’s scary when you do it for business and we experience a loss of confidence. Suddenly women find it intimidating to walk into a room where there are men. Well actually, not every man is scary and I always ask where is the evidence that these men are scary? 99% of the people that I have met, both men and women, in networking situations have been lovely.
First of all work on your mindset: how do you know that you are not good at or confident about networking? What if you went to your networking meeting and actually you really enjoyed it?
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