Do you remember your first professional conference? If you’re like most of us, you do …because the experience was downright terrifying. Even if you consider yourself a bit of a social butterfly, it’s difficult to walk up to a stranger, in a room filled with strangers, and strike up a conversation.
Want to know what’s worse? You have to talk about yourself. Ugh.
Many professional women have trouble touting the benefits of their service for fear of sounding too “pitchy.” So then, we end up taking it to the extreme and inadvertently downplaying our jobs. Networking mission not accomplished. You just connected with a bunch of powerful people who now think your service is “no big deal.”
On the other hand, some women get so nervous about networking that they end up chugging a glass or two of wine before bragging about their accolades to anyone who will listen. And we all know that’s all kinds of detrimental. So, let’s move past alcoholism and towards making mutually beneficial connections.
Networking is so scary for us because of the pressure to make a good impression. But here’s the thing: It doesn’t have to be so scary. With a combination of good technique and practice, you can get over your fear of networking once and for all.
Here are a few tips you can put into practice today.
Perfect your elevator pitch
What do you say when someone asks what you do? If you’ve ever fumbled around to explain your service, you need to work on your elevator pitch. If people don’t understand your service when you’re done, you need to work on your elevator pitch.
An elevator pitch is a short and sweet description of what you do and what you can offer. It’s important to blend the two, so your contacts can start picturing how they might use your service.
Most importantly, your elevator pitch should answer the questions of who you are, what you do, and why people should care. The last one may also include what makes your service stand apart from the rest.
Think realistically about the outcome
When we shy away from networking, it’s usually the pressure that gets us. What if the person is rude and thinks your service is stupid? If we’re being honest, that’s a fear most of us have (or something similar), but it’s almost completely irrational.
Think about it objectively. What are the actual chances that you start talking to someone and they rudely tell you (in so many words) that you and your service are the pits. Not very likely, right? As long as you are kind and respectful, most people will return the favor.
At worst, they might find an excuse to end the conversation. Can you handle that?
Remember that it’s about relationships
So what happens when someone clearly isn’t interested in what you have to offer? Some people will tell you that it’s a numbers game and you just need to keep pitching. There is some truth in that, but don’t forget about the importance of relationships.
Just because someone isn’t interested doesn’t mean they don’t know another person who is. Powerful people have powerful friends, so sometimes, it’s just about the relationship.
Remember that this isn’t a one-way street. Always ask questions about the other person and what they do. See if you have ideas to send business their way. If not, that’s okay too. If you can make an impression, it may turn into a lead somewhere down the line.
Hopefully, these tips have eased your mind a bit and made you feel better about networking. But they’re just the tip of the iceberg. If you think you could benefit from more tips or just want to up your marketing game, check out our upcoming Success Summit. It’s NOTHING like your typical conference, and you’ll walk away with knowledge and experience to help propel your career to the next stratosphere.
Emily is an experienced content writer. She has written about an array of topics, from business, healthcare, and technology to travel, culinary, education and even fashion & lifestyle. In her free time, Emily enjoys traveling, training for half marathons, and cooking for her family.