October, 17, 2011

5 Must-Have Tips for Confident Networking – Communications Coaching

Most of us have been there.  The clammy hands, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat.  No, we’re not on our way to the dentist… we’re walking into a networking meeting.

For many of us, networking is an essential part of growing and sustaining a healthy business.  Statistics say that even the fear of death comes in second to the fear of public speaking…in my opinion that’s because death happens only once!  I would argue that networking ranks in the same category for many of us.

I love people…one on one or in small groups.  I greatly enjoy grabbing lunch with a client to discuss their latest project, Life Language consultations and seminar, a cup of coffee with a friend, or brainstorming with other professionals to solve challenges in our businesses.  I’m a relationship person and my entire business philosophy stems from that.  I’m confident that I know what I’m doing and that I can do it well, but put me in a large group of people and sometimes I feel like it’s my first day at a new school all over again.

Unless you’re one of the rare (and very lucky ) high extroverts, you’ve probably arrived at a networking meeting, looked around at the sea of faces, and then proceeded to be barraged by a stream of negative self talk as your brain tells that that you’re a fraud, everyone else in the room is a hardcore business professional and you are just pretending, that you’re going to forget your speech…maybe even your own name!

Relax and take a deep breath and then inform your brain that it has more important things to think about than if you’re going to have a heart attack as you take the floor.  You’ve got this under control.

For some of us it may feel that extreme, for most it may be a just a little nervousness or hoping that we don’t forget our elevator speech and represent our businesses well.  Wherever we fall on the scale of overwhelmingly nervous or 100% confident we can probably all brush up on how to deal with nervousness in our networking skills.

I’ve networked and presented in front of groups of all sizes in many places in the world and yet that familiar little grip of nerves, quickened heartbeat or fear that I may forget what to say happens to me often at the most unexpected of times.

My personal keys to avoid being a nervous networker?

Networking in Franklin, TN

1.  Relax, take a deep breath, and smile! Just the act of drawing in oxygen can steady nerves and lower your heart rate while smiling releases endorphins.

2. Practice positive self-talk. Did you know that most of our internal conversations are negative?  As I’m entering the room or walking to take the stage I remind myself that I’m confident and successful, that people like me, and that I’m going to represent myself or my information well.  Sound cheesy?  It works!

3.  Have a killer elevator speech and practice it ahead of time. An elevator speech is a short paragraph or two that describes who you are and what your business does.  Make it interesting, informative, and memorable.  Deliver with confidence and don’t rush.

4. Be memorable. What is it about you and your business that makes you unique? Don’t be shy to share it!  Make sure you always have business cards with you with up-to-date contact information.

And the final and possibly most important tip to confident networking?

5. Above all be yourself. Expect that people are going to like you and remember that you and your business bring talents and experience to the table that no one else has just like you.  The only way that you can BE yourself is if you KNOW yourself.  The best tool that I have experienced after over a decade in corporate communications is the 7 Life Languages™.  The 20+ pages of your personal profile show you the inner workings of the way you approach life and how you can be more effective in communication, not just in networking and your professional life but in your personal life and even in your relationship with yourself.  Ready to get started?  Take your profile today!  Already taken your profile and want to go deeper?  Contact me for information on individual consultation and small to large group seminars!

Do you have any tips for confident networking?  I’d love to hear them!

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