If you’re in the process of starting a business, then you already know how hard it can be. You need to be dedicated, invest enough time, energy, focus, and effort, and stay motivated and consistent.
That’s why it’s always a great idea to choose a field you’re passionate about; it’s a guarantee that you won’t get bored any time soon.
But beyond passion, there’s one other key ingredient successful business owners can’t go without: networking.
Meeting the right people, sharing ideas, finding partners and investors, seeking advice and support—this is all about forming relationships with like-minded business people in your field.
Some people are more communicative than others, and are always ready to meet new individuals and present themselves and their ideas in the most confident way possible.
But others aren’t born with good social skills, and they need to work on improving them if they want to become effective networkers.
7 tips for making networking as painless (and productive) as possible:
1. Introduce yourself to new people all the time
Most of the time the best and easiest way to conquer a fear is to do what we’re afraid of.
Without thinking too much, just take action.
With social anxiety, the solution is simple—approach a new person whenever you have the chance. It’s scary, yes. But it also gets easier each time you do it.
You may experience awkward situations and fail to start a conversation, but you’ll try another approach next time and will soon feel comfortable in your skin.
There’s no right formula for what to say when you meet someone for the first time. So just think of something and go say it. Ask a question, or simply introduce yourself.
Succeed once, and you’ll get a confidence boost and will be able to do it again and again.
2. Know why you’re doing it
Keeping your “why” in mind is important. It’s like a reality check.
There are so many distractions around us, that we often need to be reminded of our goals in life in order to keep working on them.
So in this case, you should be aware of the benefits of networking. Here are some of them:
- You’ll improve your personal brand
- You’ll be able to share and get ideas
- You’ll be inspired by people who’ve already achieved what you’re after
- You can make new friends
- You’ll reach out to potential partners and investors
- You’ll improve your social skills
- You’ll build relationships
Keep all these reasons in mind and you’ll know meeting new people is worth it, even if you feel anxious.
3. Be okay with rejection
Let’s face it: You’ll get rejected many times, whether you like it or not. We all fail in life a couple of times before we find what works.
But rejection, in this case, means you’re meeting new people and trying again and again. And after each time, you’ll be stronger, more experienced, and can analyze what doesn’t work and do things differently.
Accept each rejection as a priceless learning experience. Plus, there are billions of people in this world. There’s no way you can make all of them like you. Be alright with that. Simply accept that as a sign that you two can’t form a business relationship and even if you try, nothing good will come out of this.
So just move onto the next person and eventually you’ll find the right mentor, partner, or influencer that will see potential in your ideas and will like your way of thinking.
4. Talk about your passions
If you’re a newbie at this, here is one interesting way to get better at networking.
Introduce yourself to new people, talk about your passions, and ask them about theirs. We’re talking about the business world here, and most of the time people are super passionate about what they do—so, that’s something you have in common.
Even if you’re in two different fields, nothing stops you from sharing ideas, giving advice, and encouraging each other.
The fact that you’ve defined your passions and have followed them is your biggest asset in this case. Use it wisely.
You don’t need to talk much if you don’t feel like it.
Silence is often better than saying something that doesn’t make any sense.
So, after you approach a new person and say a thing or two about yourself, ask a question and listen to the answer with interest.
Listening is still a rare and powerful skill and it’s one of the best compliments you can give to someone. By listening, you’re showing respect and showing that you care. You connect with the person on a deeper level and often win them as a friend.
Plus, you can learn a lot from listening.
6. Be positive
Optimism can save you in this case, too.
Look forward to meeting new people. Hope for and expect the best to happen; even if it doesn’t, be okay with that and try again.
Whenever you’re attending an event and have the chance to meet like-minded people, be excited about it. Appreciate this opportunity and make the most of it.
Smile a lot. Be friendly and polite. And truly enjoy getting to know the people there.
7. Be prepared
Being prepared will make you more confident and less anxious.
If you’re going to a big event and know there will be many powerful people there, do your research. Know what they’ve been up to lately. Plan out and practice what you’ll say if you want to.
Get your business cards ready, decide what you’ll wear. Think of what you can do for these people so that you can stand out from the crowd.
While doing all this, you’ll also get mentally prepared for the upcoming event. Once you’re there, you’ll act more naturally and confident too. So, do something in advance to make sure things go according to plan.
Bringing it all together
So, here is your overview of how you build networking skills when you’re not much of a social person.
The good news is, you can become one. It takes practice, but it’s absolutely achievable in a short period of time.
The more you get yourself out there and approach people, the more you increase your chances of being noticed by someone important and being made a unique proposition.
Nothing will happen, however, if you don’t take action right now. Do your research and find the right events in your area. Or start online; connect with influencers on social media, write about them and send them a link, offer them something for free, or contact them via email with an interesting offer you have in mind.
If you do this 100 times, you’ll get maybe 10-30 answers. A few of them might be beneficial to you and your business; one of them can change your whole life.
So, what can you do today to become a more effective networker?