Some Tips to Improve Your Networking

By Deborah Rodney
Broads Circle Premium Member

Does networking make you nervous? Does walking into a room where you don’t know very many people take you out of your comfort zone, even though you’ve done it a hundred times before? Many professionals don’t enjoy business networking because they feel uncomfortable “selling” themselves. It may not be true in Broad’s Circle, where we’re among other women and among friends, but I’m sure we’ve all experienced this discomfort at one time or another.
 
I used to feel intimidated in certain situations, and on some occasions I still do, even though I’ve recently “turned pro” and now network for a living in my capacity as Regional Development Director for ProVisors (a professional networking organization). While learning to overcome my natural shyness and reluctance to put myself out there, I’ve picked up a few techniques over the years that have helped me tremendously:

  1. When attending a networking event, mixer or group meeting, don’t go in with the attitude, “What am I going to get out of this?” Approach everyone you meet with the intention of “What can I do for you?” You’ll find that you’ll wind up asking more questions, listening more than you talk, becoming curious about the other person, and often learning something new from them. Taking the focus off yourself and putting it on them will make you more comfortable in the conversation and you’ll probably be better liked and remembered.
  2. Go with the objective of trying to discover something that you both have in common, whether it’s about your kids, a vacation spot you’ve both been to, a common acquaintance or recreational activity. Doing this also forces you to ask questions and draw the other person out of themselves.
  3. Pretend you are the hostess and your job is to make the other people in the room feel welcome and comfortable. It makes it much easier to walk up to someone you don’t know and initiate a conversation. Disarm them. Chances are they are feeling the same way you are and don’t want to let it show.
  4. Successful networking is about giving, not about getting. Paradoxically, you get more out of it if you don’t expect to get something out of it. See how many people you can help out in some small way, by making an introduction, sharing some information, suggesting an event they might like to attend, following up by sending an article they might be interested in or inviting them to connect on Linkedin and offering to make connections for them.

These techniques really do work.  Try them and see for yourself!
 
Deborah Rodney is the Regional Director of Development for ProVisors, a professional networking organization comprised of top professionals in their fields who serve as trusted advisors to their clients.

15165 Ventura Boulevard, Suite 425, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
Phone: 310-889-7657
Email: deb@provisors.com
Website: www.provisors.com

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