If you were asked to attend an event what is your initial reaction? I’m talking networking meetings, evening soirees, masterclasses and even retreats. Do you stride confidently into the room or sneak in and walk around the edges only talking to those you already know?
Honestly, networking as an introvert has been a struggle for me, all too often I would say yes to exquisite soirees only to change my mind at the last moment. I most definitely would be eying up my exits and thinking what time is appropriate for me to sneak out and head home. But after 21 years in business I feel I have (somewhat) mastered networking with more confidence – even as an introvert!
So how can you overcome a lack of confidence attending events and network like a pro?
If you experience anxiety at the thought of attending any networking, I can help. Read on for tips to help you overcome your anxiety so you can be your most confident put together self, and network with confidence. Who knows maybe I’ll see you attend one of my own events in the New Year?
Firstly be strategic and go with a plan, what do you want to get out of the networking? Instant referrals or building relationships for the future? What is your purpose? Meeting someone specifically? Or learning more about a sector? At our UKAWP Mix and Mingle soirees I would have attendees that wanted to learn more about wedding planning, those that wanted to become members but the majority just wanted to connect with highly successful planners. The turnout was always huge with a wonderful buzz.
Go armed with an introduction as to what you do (aka an elevator pitch). Be proud and don’t gloss over this. If you are not excited with your business why would anyone else be? Take a buddy but remember the point is meeting new people not standing by your friends side no matter how tempting.
How to overcome anxiety and network like a pro even if you are an introvert? Or if you prefer you can click below to watch my YouTube video. ⬇️
Be selective with which events to attend.
It can be all too easy to say yes to everything. But are the attendees the right type of attendees? Either as potential clients or industry peers? I would always turn down breakfast meetings because …
a) trying to attend and organise childcare that early would be challenging and
b) the attendees were generally corporate business owners and thus not my niche
Know what you want to ask
Take some icebreaker questions with you so you can truly get to know the attendees. Ask just 2-3 questions before you move onto the next person.
Any little antidotes you can mention next time you meet. I think the last time we spoke you were headed off on holiday to xx, how was it? Keep the questions open ended and actively listen to what they answer.
- If you had a magic wand what is the 1 thing you would change about your business / the industry?
- Can you tell me a little about your business?
- What motivated you to get into x,y,z?
- What made you decide to attend this event today
- Who do you think I should talk to today?
- What do you like to do outside of work?
Bonus: take a photo or selfie, add to your contacts then add answers to questions and thoughts on them.
Remember to be you, yes be professional but also be natural, friendly and approachable. Remember the like, know and trust factor. You are trying to see if they are a good fit as a client or to collaborate with, and they are trying to see if you are a person they could work with or refer clients to you. Stories connect people, so don’t just talk business, “I’m so wonderful this is what I have achieved”. And instead open up , share any back story, funny antidotes. It is these stories that make you memorable NOT your portfolio.
Focus more on THEM and less on their BUSINESS.
The focus here is building your network so it works for you. And don’t forget to mingle, I see you introverts hugging the outside of the room, trust me I’ve been there. But put your brave face on, set yourself a target of meeting x number of people before you exit and leave! Do your research and try to find out who is attending, get an insight into who they are as individuals. Then weave this into the conversation.
Whenever I hosted a UKAWP event we would have a specific hashtag, this meant excitement would build as guests were making their way to the event. This also helped me know who was coming and I could research them whilst making my own way into town.
Get there early
Get to the event early or arrange to walk in with someone, hands up I did this for many years as walking into an event made my introvert tendencies scream. Being late and entering when deep conversations are already in place can be intimidating. Don’t be afraid to ask the organiser to introduce you to someone to start talking to, explain you are a little nervous. Any true leader will ensure they connect you with likeminded attendees, this is part of their role facilitating the networking.
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Don’t forget to listen
No-one wants to be stuck with that person at a networking event who drones on and on about themselves. Remember to take pauses, ask questions and most importantly listen to them. Don’t be afraid to let the quiet moments extend as this is when the person you are talking with with invariably start “filling the gap” and thus you learn far more about them then you would have imagined.
Remember your energy
If you are an introvert don’t forget to schedule some quiet time after the event so you can recharge. Recognise this is important in order for you to focus energetically the following day. And don’t attend 2 events on one day unless you’re an extrovert! If the event is all day take a walk outside at lunch so you are energetic for the afternoon session.
I hope you have enjoyed this article, feel free to share your views with me on social media , have you joined my facebook group? Every Wednesday I dedicate to the wedding industry.
How to show up confidently on social media