6 Tips for Anxiety Free Networking

If you’re serious about growing your business, at some point you’ll need to do some networking.Despite the fuss about online marketing, face to face is still one of the best ways to reach new clients. Ask a few successful business people you know how their largest or best clients found them, and the chances are that personal networking  event attendance, or a personal introduction will have been involved in a surprising number of cases.

If you’re not the most outgoing person in the world, networking can be daunting, but the reward for persisting can be significant.  The good news is that you can get comfortable with networking, if you’re willing to take yourself out of your comfort zone and practice.

Here are six tips to help you network with more confidence.

1.Be prepared

A little bit of social anxiety can actually get the blood flowing and help you focus. The problem is more when you have so much anxiety that you can’t face talking to anyone. A bit of practice beforehand can help you go into your networking situation with more confidence. Memorise your USP, think of a list of topics you can use to start conversations and you’ll feel more prepared and less put on the spot when you’re talking to people.

2.Set goals

Having a plan can take some of the anxiety out of a networking event and remind you why you’re there. Create a goal – it’s OK to start small. Maybe you can aim to make one new connection at your first networking event, and once you’ve done that you can leave. As you get better and more confident, you can increase your goal.

3.Position yourself strategically

Hovering nervously by the door is probably not going to help you meet people. Try positioning yourself near the bar or food table instead. This way you’ll be in the path of other people who might be looking for someone to talk to and you have an instant topic of conversation to break the ice. Long drink queues or weird tasting cupcakes are fantastic ice breakers that will have you chatting away in no time.

4.Bring a friend

A wing man or woman can help settle those nerves and means you won’t have to worry about standing around awkwardly without anyone to talk to. Just make sure you both go off on your own once you’re comfortable; after all you’re there to meet new people, not hang out with the ones you already know.

5.Get there early

If you’re not feeling confident, arriving while everyone else is getting there and before conversation groups have formed is a great way to meet a few people and break the ice. Once you know a few names and faces the rest of the event will probably be less intimidating.

6. Embrace awkwardness

Remember, nobody is expecting you to be perfect. A little bit of awkwardness and nervousness can be endearing and if you stumble over a couple of words, or a silence goes on a bit longer than you like don’t be hard on yourself. You’re going to make a better impression as a genuine, slightly awkward person than if you come across as too slick and fake.

It can be overwhelming at first, but the more time you spend networking, the easier it gets. Above and beyond these tips, the key to successful networking is to build relationships with some of the people you meet. See yourself as ‘building a network’ rather than simply networking. It’s typically not the people you meet who will become your clients – it’s the people they mention you to in the future.

The payoff from building those real life connections will be more than worth the effort it takes to put yourself out there.

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Leonie Seysan is the Director of Article Writers Australia, and manages the team of professional writers and editors. She holds a Bachelor of Communications Degree (Media Studies).

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