Networking is just an inherent part of running a business. This is a fact that a lot of people really aren’t going to like, but if you want to make sure that your business is successful, then you’re going to need to learn to network effectively. The problem is, for many of us, networking can be a seriously awkward and intimidating experience. Unless you’re a true extrovert and there’s nothing you love more than meeting people, you’re inevitably going to find networking to be at least a little bit uncomfortable. But fear not! It doesn’t have to be that way; there are actually plenty of things that you can do to make yourself better at networking. Here are just a few simple tips that will help you avoid the inevitable awkwardness.
Never Miss a Marketing Opportunity
The biggest issue that a lot of people have when it comes to networking is that that they simply don’t know what to say. Fortunately, you always have a set topic on hand: your business. This means that you should never miss an opportunity to market your business. If you’re at a specific networking event, then you might have a step and repeat banner that displays your business clearly to anyone that you’re talking to, but otherwise, you could also just hand out a business card when you introduce yourself. That gets the details of your business out there without you having to go through the trouble of explaining the whole thing to people over and over.
Avoid the Hard Sell
But this doesn’t mean that you should use the entire networking opportunity to try and offer up facts and figures about your business. When you’re talking to someone, the last thing you want to do is to give them the hard sell. After all, networking should still have the quality of a natural conversation. If you do talk about your business, talk about it on a personal level. Discuss the people behind the business and how that influences its core values. Remember, this is not an investors meeting, you’re not trying to convince anyone of anything, you’re simply trying to get your business out there into people’s minds.
Fake It ’til You Make It
Don’t worry if you’re the kind of person who tenses up at even the idea of having to talk to people that you don’t know. This is totally natural and far more common than you might expect. You would probably find that the people who seem the most confident while networking feel just as awkward and uncomfortable as you do. The key is to project confidence on the outside, even if you’re not really feeling it. This will set the person you’re talking to at ease and will give them a much more positive memory of your interaction, and by extension your business. The more you do this, the easier it will get until eventually, you’ll find that you’re not even having to fake it anymore, you really do feel as confident as you seem on the outside.
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