Few things strike terror in the heart of an introverted entrepreneur more than networking. Even extroverts can be put off by the prospect.
That’s because networking has such a bad name. It feels fake. It feels icky, as one of my clients put it. It feels like a bad idea from the moment you walk into the room. And it often doesn’t accomplish what we hope for.
The reason is that networking often involves little real connection. Networking, or any gathering with other people, can be great for your business, if you connect with other human beings in an authentic way.
How do you create that connection? Here are 3 tips to get you past the ‘ick’ of networking and into relationship with your fellow beings.
Talk first, share your business card later. Shoving your biz card at someone before you even start conversing is a sure way to alienate people. Have a conversation first, ask questions, and get to know them.
Pay attention. Listen when the person is talking and respond to what they are saying. Seems straightforward enough, right? Well, it happens less than you might think. We’re often more interested in what we’re going to say next and jump in without really listening. People (including you!) love to be heard, so act on that basis.
Share something valuable. When someone says something that pings your brain and makes you think of something useful or helpful you can offer, share it, right then and there. When people know you’re focused on helping them, it builds the relationship.
Bonus tip: Stay off your phone unless you’re looking up something that will be helpful to one of your new connections. Even then, don’t spend more than a minute or two on it. We’re so accustomed to pulling out our phones and using them as an escape. Instead, connect in the moment with the people actually in the room with you.
When you network or attend any event for that matter, do it with the intention of connection and you’ll have a much better experience and outcome. You may even seek out more opportunities to do so!