The first business networking meetings that I attended were something of a disaster for me. I’m naturally an introvert and am somewhat claustrophobic. Add in the ‘fun’ of being overweight, and it can make moving about in a crowd somewhat… weird. To say that I was a hot mess navigating every networking meeting would probably be something of an understatement.
I realized that as part of doing business, I needed to master this skill. And being the logical person I am (some of you are probably laughing at that statement, admit it), I decided to put together a protocol and mental checklist for how to handle those business networking meetings.
I quickly realized I needed to carry business cards everywhere I go. That part was easy. I started experimenting with my 30- and 60-second introductions of who I am and what I do. Check.
Next up was learning how to navigate a room filled with – GASP! – people.
Did you know that you don’t actually have to talk to all 50 people in the room? Nor should you actively try to. You might roll your eyes at that one, but it was a big discovery for me. I already knew I shouldn’t try to talk to any single person for very long, but switching between groups was awkward to say the least.
Add in the fear of “What if they don’t like me?”. Sweaty palms. UGH! Sweaty palms at a networking meeting are no good. Calm down. Breathe. Change how I think.
I figured out how to consider it a successful business networking event for me. I decided that if I was able to talk to 3-5 people in 15 minutes and have a couple minutes of conversation with each one, I was good. Bonus points for setting up one or more 1:1 meetings with people for after the meeting.
I had my little checklist and could do that. I’m a rule follower, so if I create my own little rule book, I’m good.
Flipping my thinking on its head has helped big time.
Rather than going into a room and thinking, “What if they don’t like me?”, I think “Gosh, lots of new potential business partners. I wonder which ones will be the best ones.” I started treating it as both a relationship building exercise and as an opportunity to interview and find the best of the best. In order to grow my business, I needed to find the right people who could refer potential clients to me. I also needed to find those people to whom I could confidently refer potential clients.
Once I started seeing business networking events as an opportunity to grow my business and relaxing about the whole thing, it got so much easier to use them effectively to make friends and get clients.
.Want to get more customers in your business? I’ve got just the opportunity for you!
Join us in Durham, NC, for my first ever business summit. At this live summit, on September 22-24, you’ll learn more about networking and how to grow your business. You’ll also have the opportunity to build some amazing relationships with other amazing entrepreneurs.
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Meet the Author: Haley Lynn Gray
Haley helps female entrepreneurs create a strategy plan for their businesses – so they can make enough money to spend quality time with their family, pay for their children’s dance lessons, pay bills – and not worry about where the next client is coming from.
Haley is a serial entrepreneur and founder of Leadership Girl. She helps other entrepreneurs build their businesses by sharing the benefits of her business education and experience through Business Coaching.
Whether you want to get a new business off the ground or expand an existing business, Haley can assist you.
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