Many of my coaching clients and countless entrepreneurs have shared with me that they absolutely dread networking. You have likely heard countless statistics related to more people fearing public speaking than death and I have often heard people liken networking to public speaking.
Prospects are the lifeblood of an entrepreneur’s business but all too often, I hear the phrase, “I hate networking.” Well guess what? Whether you like it or not you need to get over it because if you are not constantly filling your funnel with new people to talk to you, you will not have a business to worry about. No matter how wonderful you think your website might be, how much you have paid for the fancy marketing materials you use, or how often you are interviewed on television or radio, contrary to popular belief, people do not get up in the morning intent upon finding you. Let’s stop keeping ourselves a ‘well kept secret’ and begin to proactively get out there and let people know who we are.
Before I go further, I would like to make sure we are all on the same page when it comes to the definition of networking. Networking is the process or practice of building up or maintaining informal relationships, especially with people whose friendship could bring advantages such as job or business opportunities. Encarta Dictionary: English (North America)
At this point, I am sure everyone would agree that meeting new prospects is critical to an entrepreneur’s success but there is one thing that plays a huge part in your ultimate networking success and it is having confidence. To help you in this area, here are my Three P’s in regards to building your networking confidence; Perspective, Prepare and Practice.
1. To build confidence, you need to change your Perspective on matters that influence your confidence. If you are not comfortable meeting new people because you hate small talk and never know what to say, then write out a script and role-play it with someone until you feel comfortable. If you hate public speaking then consider joining a local Toastmasters group or have someone videotape you speaking and then critique yourself with a keen eye and focus on your facial expressions, posture, hand gestures and listen to your tonality and be aware of how many times you use um’s and ah’s.
2. Prepare for networking events and deal with the business of you. Develop a solid professional image, master the fundamentals, have a proactive strategy in place, and know what the ultimate goal is of attending the event. When you deal with these upfront, you will be confident that when you attend a networking event you are making a great first impression (you only have 30-60 seconds at most) which will allow you to take your eyes off yourself and focus on others.
3. Confidence takes a lot of Practice. The more business networking experience you gain, the easier it will be and the more confident you will become. Building your confidence gives your business networking efforts a sense of ease and allows you to ultimately enjoy the process. By continually challenging yourself to practice, practice, practice, it will help you to break through your comfort zone, which will eventually elevate your comfort zone boundaries.
Your anxiety about networking is not going to disappear overnight but by putting these three P’s in place, over time it will cease to feel like a challenge or a chore and simply become part of your process when it comes to building your business.
I would love to hear your thoughts on the 3 P’s and I welcome any ideas you have to make networking a more enjoyable experience for all entrepreneurs.
To Your Success!