Many of the meeting and event planners that I talk to often tell me that they dread going to networking events. And, I have to admit, I too sometimes have dreaded these networking events. Until recently. I started to wonder what was it about networking that really gets some people anxious, or rather, nervous. So what I then started to do at my own networking events was watch the body language and interactions of the other guests in the room. From that, I started to realize why so many planners hate networking.
What I really should be saying is that the real reason many people hate networking is because a lot of them are not very good at it. Which is unfortunate because there is really no science to being good at networking. When you sit back and analyze what networking is all about you start to realize that there really is no right way or wrong way to do it. Once you finish reading this article, I encourage you to just stop and look around you at your next event to see what really is going on in the room.
A Couple of Easy Tips That You Can Implement to Make Your Networking Less Stressful
Do not go into a networking event expecting to “close the deal”. This is one of the first mistakes that I see in a lot of meeting and event planners. We know that there is a certain mix of suppliers and potential clients together in the same room. But trust me, potential clients are not looking at a networking event as a venue to close the deal. Rather, you really need to start thinking of networking as a “get to know one another” event. It”s not that you have to give a rundown of your entire life’s history (and please do not do that). Instead, you should keep your conversations light and ask questions. Many times, and especially in the meetings and events industry, the people in the room come from all walks of life and from across the country as well as international locations. So why don’t you try and find out a little bit about where the person lives, what life is like there, etc. You will be surprised at just how easy your interactions can be.
Think of social networking in the same light as traditional networking. One of my very close friends is involved in marketing. I would have to say that the best piece of advice that she gave me when I was first starting out in social networking was to think of it the same way you would a traditional networking environment. In other words, would you go up to somebody in a room that you haven”t known or met and immediately start pitching all the features and benefits of your company. No, of course you wouldn’t. But, how many of you have done exactly that on your social networking accounts? Are you wondering why your phone isn’t ringing off the hook? Well, put yourself in the receivers shoe. Would you want to be standing at an event and have a stranger come up to you, maybe shake your hand, and then proceed to tell you how great their company is and why you just must use them for your next event? This little piece of advice has done more for me and my development in social networking than almost anything else. It’s about engaging your audience. It’s about getting to know your audience. If somebody comments on one of your posts or send you a direct message, think of that as a conversation. In other words answer them. Now you are starting to social network.
Many meeting and event planners think of networking as one of those necessary evils of their job. But, if you really think about networking as a way of just expressing yourself and getting to know other people in your industry you’ll be amazed at the outcome. Not to mention what you could learn about your industry from colleagues.
Like wine, good relationships take time. If you approach networking correctly, the business becomes almost a side effect of your engagement with people. Who knows, you may wake up and actually be excited to go to your next networking event.