Networking Isn’t a 4-Letter Word

Every time you leave the house there is potential for profitable connections. The person behind you at the coffee shop could be your next big client. The guy you meet at a cocktail party might be your perfect referral partner. The woman you run into at the library might be your next perfect hire. You are networking every time you cross paths with another human. And yet many of us think of networking and immediately curse inside at the thought of it.

Even I feel the fear as a professional keynote speaker and non-stop traveler who is constantly meeting new people and attending events. The word itself – NETWORKING – makes me say a few choice 4-letter-words inside. Why? I’m an introvert (which no one can ever believe) so all the mingling, hanging out in airports, going to event cocktail parties, and being in all-day conferences really drains my energy. I have to dig really, REALLY deep to keep smiling and not let cranky resting face take over especially when I teach on stage the elements of confidence and personal branding to power leadership and sales! I need to practice what I preach.

I’ve discovered three things I (and others) really need to manage to keep me at the top of my game in these high-demand networking situations. Try them and see if they work for you too. It’s critical whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert that you honor your own needs or your networking goals will fall flat. And remember – you are always networking so own your best assets and ensure they are on display even when you’re not in “networking mode.”

  1. Take breaks. I simply cannot do days or even hours of endless chatting, sharing, and learning. I have to build in many escapes whether it’s quick bathroom trips to taking full days to explore the city solo between conference days to adjust my mood and attitude. Even if you take a few minutes to step away from the action to be alone and regroup it will do wonders for your ability to communicate and show up confidently both verbally and non-verbally.
  2. Know why you’re there. When I go to ANY event as a speaker or attendee I always have a plan that ties to the reason why I’m there. Is it learning? Meeting new sales prospects? Getting my name out there? Checking out a new group? Whatever it is for you stay mindful of that while you work the room to stay on track. Don’t just hang out with your friends or people you already know. And definitely don’t just go into business card mode collecting and handing out as many as you can. Create personal connections and be a powerhouse of confidence and positive energy so you will be memorable to the people you meet – which makes follow-up much easier when they remember you and how you made them feel.
  3. Know your limits. If you know you’ve hit a wall and can’t meet even one more person then call it quits. If you stick around with a negative attitude or body language, you are only hurting yourself. When you are your best self you will attract the best prospects, referrals, and people to you and your message. When you overdo it and start putting out negative vibes you are sabotaging yourself so it’s best to step away from the scenario. 

Talk to me? What can you do to make your networking more productive and profitable?

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