Networking events, you either love them or you get sweaty palms just thinking about them. Attending meetups, conferences, network events, luncheons, fundraisers, and all of the other types in between come naturally for some. For others, they create stress and anxiety which can prevent you from getting all of the benefits out of the event.
This episode is dedicated to all of you who want to put yourselves out there and meet new people even if it's sometimes the hardest thing for you to do. Maybe you're an introvert, maybe you're shy, or maybe you just lack self-confidence. Use these ten tips and strategies to help you push through the hard stuff and get more out of these amazing opportunities.
Get your stuff taken care of before the event. This is especially key for multi-day events or events that require you to travel. Having things handled, marketing content is scheduled, automations ready, and your out of office set. These are key to letting you focus. Nothing is worse than having to leave a room to take calls, or missing out on key insights because you’re nose deep in your email or doing tasks.
Consider a social media break - I’m all for you posting about your event while you’re there if it makes sense for your business and your audience...but keep yourself out of personal social media. Again, you’re here to focus, learn, network, and connect IN PERSON. It’s too easy to get lost in the mindless blackhole of scrolling the news feed.
Bonus: If you have a VA you’re already working with, give them extra tasks to help handle your inbox and DM’s or any other “back at the office maintenance.” Again, I need you focused at these events, not stuck in your social inbox.
Reflect on why you’re attending. What are your goals. Do you want to meet new people, learn new strategies, just get out of the office and have some fun with others in your industry. Either way, before you walk in the door, take a moment to sit still with this and I guarantee it will set you up for success. You are in charge of getting the most out of the event for yourself.
Arrive Early. Now...I’m a two minutes late to everything kind of girl, but not at live events such as conferences and such. Arriving early allows you to get settled into the environment, see your way around, hit up the restroom, and even make some early connections to ease your way in. Showing up at the last minute or even late will create stress. It will take you time to get acclimated and this is a precious time you don’t want to waste. This also makes it easier for people to approach you as they arrive rather than you trying to approach others as you scurry through the doors in a rush.
Deep Breaths. If events and meeting new people make you feel anxious or nervous, go to the restroom, close the door and take a number of slow deep breaths. If you’re totally alone, exhale with some passion. Science proves that breathing this way will calm your nerves and reduce stress.
Practice saying hello. Ok this sounds weird, but especially if I am presenting, I will practice my hellos or welcome message in the car on my way, or in the shower, or wherever it makes sense the morning of.
Be welcoming. Keep your conversation circles open so others can join you. If you’re in a conversation with people, make sure there is open space for someone else to walk up and join the conversation. Often we stand close to each other in a small circle which puts our backs to everyone else and closes the circle. Keep your eyes peeled for people who may want to join you in conversation, make eye contact, and smile.
Speaking of smile…..smile! Again, if events and people make you somewhat anxious, it’s likely you’ve got a good case of deer in the headlights look or RBF. Sometimes when we get uber focused, we forget to relax our face and keep a soft smile going. It’s especially important to smile when you’re meeting people. This might take some extra focus and real mental toughness to train yourself to work through, but it’s important.
Business Cards or No Business Cards - Create an easy way to exchange info. So...I actually still believe in business cards, especially when you’re at events where sometimes the conversations get cut short. If you’re saving paper or just don’t have any business cards (or you forgot them), then create a digital business card you can text or airdrop to someone. You can use a tool like Canva to create one.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help and state your goals. If you’re there to make new connections, say so. If you’re there to look for new job opportunities, say so. By making your intentions known, you make it clear how others can help you. You’re also reinforcing your objectives for being at the event, which makes you more focused.
There you have it my friends! Use these tips for your next conference, luncheon, or networking event. They will help you be a better networker and you'll get so much more out of these great opportunities.
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