A colleague recently asked me for some coaching advice. She wanted to extend her professional network but just didn’t know how. She was often invited to networking events, but was nervous because she wouldn’t know anyone, and didn’t want to attend alone. Rather than attend these events, she would often make up excuses as to why she couldn’t attend. She was too busy, the event was too early, she already had plans.
My colleague could see this was holding her back, but didn’t have the confidence or tools to overcome this. I shared with her one of my favourite quotes:
“If you want to conquer fear, don’t sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy”
I then gave her my 3 simple steps to boosting her confidence:
Step 1 – Preparation: Know your game plan
Preparation is the key to feeling confident with meeting new people. Think of it like a sporting team, they don’t casually turn up to a game without a game plan and expect a good result. Treat your networking or social experience the same. Set your game plan, know the event well, understand who will be attending and have a plan of who you might like to talk to. Google some easy conversation starters to help you along if you find it hard to make small talk. Once you have this information you are ready for step 2….
Step 2 – Research: You have all the tools you need right at your fingertips
Never before have we had the opportunity to research and find out vast amounts of information before even meeting someone, like we do today. Facebook, LinkedIn and Google searches are all fantastic, fast ways to find out information. Why not learn about people before you meet them? Most people naturally gravitate to others who have similar interests. If you know what these are, you’ll be a step ahead in being able to create a natural and easy conversation which will make you feel more confident.
Once you have mastered step number 2, remember step number 3 is key…Step 3 – Stop talking and listen: The most important step
Most people think networking is all about talking, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. The true key to developing any social interaction is firstly listening. As Dale Carnegie, the best selling author of “How to Win Friends and Influence People” says: “Talk to someone about themselves and they’ll listen for hours”
Then secondly, asking questions. Listen carefully to what the person has to say, and uncover more information by asking open questions. Extend the discussion, by warmly inviting others in, for example “That’s so interesting Jenny, Keith what are your thoughts on …. “.
Are you holding yourself back from reaching your full potential?