You’re there standing in the corner on your third glass of complimentary wine trying to stabilise your nerves. Crap, now you’re starting to sweat profusely and begin debating whether to make a beeline for the bathroom for the third time. It’s your first swanky networking event when you’ve finally built up the confidence to step out which feels like the equivalent to jumping out of a plane.
Trust me, we’ve all been there. Networking is that one skill you’re not taught when starting out as an entrepreneur, freelancer or trying to get well connected to progress in your industry.
Here’s the catch, everyone starts out as a beginner. Give yourself a pat on the back for even getting here. It takes balls to believe in yourself, and not only that but believing in your brand and your vision to share that with the world.
- First things, first. Breathe – Understand that all the room is full of is people. Humans. Homo sapiens. You may lack experience in networking but you are very experienced in talking to people, I mean you’ve been doing that for your whole entire life. This is just another one of those moments. Yes, you are there to work and promote yourself but understand that this is a room full of people just like you; who have insecurities, doubts, personalities but are courageous enough to bring their visions to the world and hopefully collaborate with potential clients like yourself.
- Print business cards – It’s great that you’ve now picked up the confidence to start talking to people but to leave a definite lasting impression you’ll need a business card that has your contact details and a bit about yourself to keep the conversation going out of the event. Vistaprint and Instantprint do some great deals and Canva is an amazing graphic design website where you can design your own business cards to create a statement of what your brand is all about.
- Have confidence, it all starts from you – The fact is, you know your vision better than anyone. You may get tongue tied and struck with anxiety when it comes to talking to some big names or those you admire in your industry. But once you acknowledge that you are the life and pulse of your vision then you realise that you have all the power. People respond and buy into passion before they see the product. Your brand needs to be a reflection of who you are, if people see that you’re confident and driven simply from the positive energy that you radiate when first meeting you, then that’s the impression of your brand that they will get.
- Be genuine – People can tell if you’re an opportunist and can smell clout gainers from a mile away. Don’t view the event as trying to impress big name people to gain something, but view it as an event to make new friends and connect with like-minded individuals like yourself that are passionate about the same things you are. That’s the beauty of networking, you get to connect with people that love the same things you do!
- Let your passion be your driving force – If people can see that you’re not genuinely passionate about what you’re talking about and doing it because you love it they’ll sense it. People are naturally intrigued by those who do what they’re passionate about because they want to feel that same way you do. So, don’t be afraid to let your enthusiasm come out when you’re networking with people.