Networking: the word so many people hate with a passion and something so few people truly excel at.
When I first started a business, I hated networking. I was terrified of approaching strangers who were more “important” than me to pitch myself and my business. I soon found out that if I didn’t get over these social hangups, my business would go nowhere. I had to pitch investors, customers and business partners. It took a lot of trial and error, but I finally figured it out.
Once I got over my fears and improved my social skills, both my life and my business transformed. I was able to meet people who shared my passion and were willing to help a new entrepreneur like myself. Plus, I gained confidence and established awesome friendships.
Take advantage of these four networking tips (ones I learned the hard way!) for approaching VIPs and industry leaders and having a conversation that makes you look and feel confident.
1. Beat fear by channeling your mission
Don’t you hate that voice in your head that second-guesses everything you do and say? This voice tends to go into overdrive when you’re feeling nervous about a networking conversation. On top of that, because you perceive the situation as threatening, which sends your body goes into “fight or flight” mode. You may feel goosebumps, or like your stomach is doing flips. This is normal — it’s your body trying to protect you.
The first step to beating this anxiety is to expect your feelings of nervousness and recognize that they’re normal.
Simply pause and take a few deep breaths in and out before proceeding into a conversation. You may even want to close your eyes for two seconds as you breathe in and out to calm your nerves. While you’re doing this, think about a larger mission that you have for your life or business. Channel it to distract your negative self-talk and use it to motivate you to approach the person who may have a profound effect on your business.