As an entrepreneur you are encouraged to get out there and network. Make contacts and start building relationships. Attend networking meetings and promote your business.
This sounds like a good idea until you actually arrive at the networking meeting. Then the self-doubt and fear sets in. According to an article in Psychology Today, “48 percent of people identify themselves as shy. ” Is it any wonder that networking is difficult for many entrepreneurs?
Even if you don’t consider yourself shy, networking is a challenge. How many of us really feel comfortable walking into a room of strangers and starting a conversation? Except for those few souls who love to “work a room, ” the rest of us struggle to fit in. We revert back to that little kid on the first day of class at a new school.
But, it doesn’t have to be this way. You can learn to feel comfortable networking if you change your outlook. Here are ten tips to help you become more of a social butterfly:
1. Understand that most of the people around you are also feeling awkward. Shy people are focused on themselves and falsely believe that everyone is focused on them too. Wrong. They aren’t thinking about you; they’re thinking about themselves.
2. Give yourself time to feel comfortable in a situation. Get to networking events early, before the main crowd shows up. Strike up a conversation with a few people and build your confidence.
3. Listen to discussions before you jump in. Get a feel for the conversation and then contribute when it seems right.
4. Ask questions when you first meet someone and get them to talk about themselves and their business. Make them the center of your attention.
5. Don’t insist on talking about yourself and what you do. Go into networking with the attitude of gaining more information about the people in the room.
6. Don’t try to sell your products or services. Networking is for building relationships, not selling. When someone asks you what you do, that doesn’t mean she wants a sales presentation.
7. Learn how to describe what you do in 30 seconds or less.
8. Always ask someone how you can be of help to him or her and really mean it.
9. He who collects the most business cards or gives away the most business cards at a networking meeting is not the winner. Having a business card means nothing if you weren’t able to personally connect with that person.
10. Plan ahead and have a specific purpose when you attend a networking event. Rehearse the questions you want to ask and know where you want the conversation to go.
One of the best ways to build your business is to build relationships with other business owners. People want to do business with people they like and trust. Use a networking event as an opportunity to get to know people better and find out how you can help them grow their business. Your networking will be successful once you start looking at it as a way to help others.
Michelle Howe, president of Word Magic , specializes in writing irresistible copy for Web sites. She is the author of Web Site Writing Made Easy and Persuasive Writing Made Easy. Visit her Web site at http://www.InternetWordMagic.com for a FREE audio download of “Pay-Per-Click Success: Attract More Customers in 30 Days or Less" and FREE report, “The Five-Step Plan to Article Success. "