It’s been a little while since we witnessed Bridget Jones awkwardly networking with Mark Darcy and later on, ask Salman Rushdie where the toilets where. But as we start to move into awards and party season, for an introvert or a sufferer of social anxiety, it is enough to send us to our knees blowing into a paper bag.
BUT for us business owners it is so important to be SEEN.
So, whilst every fibre of your body is screaming ‘No Thank You, pass the remote and duvet please’, there are times when we really must push ourselves out of our comfort zone because you never actually know what connections you might meet.
Why am I writing about this you ask… because networking is actually part of the publicity machine and part of being a business owner.
Who better than to do your publicity than your good self.
You can have a PR team help make those connections, but sometimes just making that one connection in the flesh is like a pebble dropping into water… the ripples around it slowly form and make new connections, new leads, new friends…
I wanted to share some of the tips I have used to prepare myself for these situations and hopefully will help make these situations easier for you. So here goes, my top tips for putting yourself out there…
The day before
- Reconfirm any last-minute details. Familiarise yourself with where you are going. Tube, driving routes, check the weather.
- Sound OTT to you… for an introvert this minimises any nerves on the day. The more sensitive you are, you’ll understand that this is essential preparation.
On the day
- Breathe and ground – Put on some soothing music – and set positive intentions around the event.
- Dress in something you feel good in – It’s so important to feel comfortable and in control of your energy.
- Business cards or something to leave with people who may be an interesting connection
- Bubble on: As an energy healer I realise that it is important to shield your energy – so imagine a pillar of white light through you from floor to the sky. Then imagine a bubble of energy is surrounding you. That is your ‘dance space’ and will help to shield you from any negative energy which you can get in social situations.
- Grab a crystal! Something like a hematite, is great to carry in your pocket to hold if you need a recharge. I also wear something like an amazonite bracelet to give me a confidence boost and to help guide me when I need to improvise on which way to take a conversation. More about this can be found in this fabulous blog.
- Use a flower remedy: Personally, I find a few drops of Elm and Crab Apple flower remedies help me so much in calming the nerves. And take in water to keep you hydrated but balanced from within.
When you get there
First, don’t stress about time: You’ll get there when you get there. Always have that at the back of your mind… it’s likely there is a reason that trains are slow, cows decided to cross the road you are driving on… its part of the bigger plan, so trust it.
Make like an Air Steward(ess): Find the exits. Find the toilets (you often strike up conversations there) and then the catering… An old boss once told me – eat when you can, sit when you can and take a toilet break when you can. Best advise ever.
Just the ONE: First tip if there is booze, DON’T head straight for the free bar – you may think the Dutch courage will boost you, but (and take it from one who knows) you may end up saying or doing something you may regret, a clear head really is best! If you must have a drink then limit it to one, some of us like to hold on to something so we keep our hands busy and for safety, so keep that drink in your hand for as long as possible – no slugging!
Smile: and Remember everyone is HUMAN – they all get naked, go to the toilet, have families, husbands, wives, kids – and you are not alone – they are likely feeling just the same as you – so you can spark a conversation about anything – talking about your journeys, the venue you are standing in, the dress or shoes they are wearing or even the weather are all good, safe icebreakers.
Scan for your tribe: By this I mean look for someone who appears to vibe like me, or my friends, or ex-colleagues. I also if I have gone on my own look for others on their own or small groups. Clichy groups I tend to steer clear of. Equally, I would ask those going to networking events in groups look out for the loners and try to include them too – it goes both ways right!
Hold space: By this I mean get THEM talking. Often people are just looking for someone to talk to, vent at, a new ear… be that person! You’ll be surprised how long you’ll be ‘talking’ to someone if you are doing the listening.
Find a common ground: Don’t just stop at the weather, find common ground quickly. You generally can figure out if you are vibing with someone similar to you just by the way they physically respond. If they politely turn away, take that as your cue to move on to another person. If you hit gold, and your person sticks around don’t just stop there, make a comment about yourself ‘i.e. it’s nice for once to have a sitter’… this can then be a precursor to determining whether the person you are ‘sparking’ with has kids or watched the entire Vampire Diaries boxset on Netflix.
Be like a Queen: If you feel have exhausted your conversation, it doesn’t feel right, don’t keep trying…make like a Queen, smile and move on. Remember those connections wont ever pass you by.
Move your body: BE like a butterfly – flit from person to person. Remember no one is judging you. And the more you work the room the more business cards you can hand out!
Re-Connect: Those connections you have made at that event, isn’t worth the effort, if you don’t reach out after the event in some way. It’s not enough to just press a business card in someone’s hand. Find them and connect with them on Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn – and begin to nurture that connection. You never know they may not need your services now, but in the future, who knows!
Having anxiety prior to networking events is something I have struggled with over the years and I totally feel your pain. I am writing this for you as much as for myself.
In the past I used several glasses of wine to get me through many an evening and whilst I have no problem promoting other people, putting myself out there can still be a struggle.
As a business owner, things have shifted, and I am reminded of the tips I picked up over the years… hopefully, it will help and inspire you to shine too.
About the Author
IndigoSoulPR is an intuitive public relations consultancy dedicated to our clients’ success, image and reputation. Owner, Sarah Lloyd, has over 20 years of corporate and agency experience under her belt, resourceful and adaptable – some liken her to water (!) and possessing a natural and intuitive ability to understand what clients are wanting from their PR, and what the press require. She is a Reiki master and angelic healer weaving her spiritual practices into her publicity work. She works with an array of authors and entrepreneurs to coach them and work on a 121 basis to help them build awareness of their brands and products.
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