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In this Post: Do you struggle to integrate yourself into networking events? Or maybe the idea of them is just a tad uncomfortable. Learn tips on how to become more comfortable at networking events.
Networking events are important for business growth. They present us with the potential to gain new clients and learn new ways to approach business. But that does not mean they are always easy to navigate! While there are those rare unicorns who make it look effortless, for the rest of us, it takes a bit more work.
Whether your next networking event is at a local coffee shop with ten people, or it is a big national or international soiree, there are some tips and tools that can help even the most reserved among us present ourselves with grace and ease.
This week, I am heading to the AMTA National Conference in Indianapolis. This will be my first time attending conference, and I kind of don’t know what to expect.
Big events like these always fill me with a mix of emotions. I’m excited for the connections I will make, the information I will learn, and the opportunities that will present themselves. However, I am also apprehensive. As a natural introvert, putting myself out there takes a little effort. Dare I say; it’s scary?
I did get an email and text from the Colorado Chapter President, welcoming me and inviting me to sit with her and the other AMTA members from Colorado. This invitation helped ease those “new kid nerves” some. But still, it’s hard going into new situations alone.
Do you guys ever get nervous when you attend a networking, marketing, or educational event?
It is hard going into a new environment without knowing a soul! Even if you have been practicing your elevator speech and have shiny new business cards! Of course, it helps when you have these things dialed in, but even so, putting yourself out there is still a little intimidating!
So how can we make these situations a little less challenging?
I have a few suggestions if you are like me and struggle a little with thrusting yourself into the midst of these networking events.
How to Become More Comfortable at Networking Events
1) Practice – Get in front of a mirror and practice your introductions. I heard a quote this past week that really resonated with me. “Practice doesn’t make perfect. It makes permanent.” If your elevator speech is permanently embedded in your psyche, you don’t have to fumble for the right words to say when you are trying to succinctly describe what sets you apart from the myriad of other therapists out there.
So, as silly as it may seem, utilize that mirror in your bathroom. I promise this technique works. Added bonus, if, like me, you end up with a three-year-old running around the house reciting a perfectly honed elevator pitch. There is nothing more precious than seeing a toddler with perfect cadence.
2) Promotional Material – Get some of those shiny new promotional materials. When you feel good about the business cards or rack cards in your hand, it is easier to promote yourself in a professional manner.
I recently discovered Moos.com. Can you say a cut above? Their cards are such high quality. I beam with pride whenever I am presented the opportunity to pass out my cards! Seriously, they are that good!
3) Smile – Simple, right? Yet so effective. You are so much more approachable with a smile on your face. I used to hate it when people would tell me to smile, yet here I am encouraging you to do so because it works!
4) Listen – Take a few minutes to listen to the conversation going on around you before you interject. Then demonstrate that you were listening by acknowledging a key point. This is much more effective at endearing you to the group than aggressively inserting yourself and your agenda.
5) Avoid the urge to sell – Instead, talk casually about your business. Share your business, but don’t sell it. People will be more apt to hear your message if you aren’t coming at them like a used car salesman!
6) Research – Do a little research about the speakers that will be presenting and the history of the event. This way, you will have relevant information to share. Who doesn’t love someone in the know!
7) Friends – If possible, bring a friend. It is often easier to connect with people when you have a good side-kick with you. Just make sure that you don’t get stuck in your own friend-world and isolate potential new friends or connections! Basically, choose your friend wisely! I have gone to events in the past with someone who dominated my time and didn’t allow me to make new connections. You want to go with someone who has a similar agenda as you do. This way, they will be motivated to help promote you to others, just as you can do for them.
8) Have a Goal – Go into the event with a specific goal you hope to achieve. Maybe, it’s setting up one coffee date with someone who resonated with you. Perhaps it’s finding one business you can support in the near future. Or maybe you want to get comfortable delivering that freshly polished elevator speech.
Going in with a goal will give you purpose and help take the pressure off about where to stand, how you look, or if you stutter. It may sound like work to have this type of agenda, but having a goal helps gives direction and eases the nerves!
And lastly, fake it until you make it. The more confidence you exude, (even if it is fake), the more comfortable you will become. With each new networking opportunity you will become more poised. Every introduction is a chance to gain confidence. Seek out these situations so that you can get good at presenting yourself to the world. Your bottom line will thank you!
Stepping outside our comfort zone is an essential piece of being an entrepreneur! By challenging ourselves to make new connections and learn new information, we are elevating ourselves and setting ourselves up for thriving practices. To neglect this type of engagement would be foolish. So, shake off those nerves, polish up your approach, and get out that door!
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