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Networking 101: Strategies To Help Boost Your Confidence & Create Relationships

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Social media is a great way to connect with strangers around the globe. It’s pretty easy to network with confidence while sitting behind the computer or smart phone. But for some people, taking those same relationships offline can be uncomfortable. You may be unsure of what to say, you may think no one finds you interesting, or you may find it hard to be yourself in social settings. As someone who used to be extremely shy, I have also shared your nervousness at one point in my career. But I challenged myself to learn how to build, what Andrew Sobel calls, Power Relationships because I knew from watching other influential people that networking skills could benefit my life in an enormous way.

:: I wanted to elevate my confidence ::

:: Develop strong body language ::

:: Build long-lasting business partnerships::

:: Master small talk ::

Some people are natural connectors and others have greater difficulty working the room. It can be extremely overwhelming to say the least, but just like with anything else in life, it is important to keep pressing on until you get it right. Here are my top 7 secrets to network with confidence [In no particular order]

:: Be the girl with a plan ::
If you have access to the guest list via social media, make sure you take some time to study who will be in attendance. Find out who the key players are and do some research on them. This is vital because it will give you the one up when you engage in conversation. For instance, let’s say I saw Miley Cyrus at a social event, naturally, I’m going to lead with a mention to her charitable efforts with My Friends Place and inquire how I can be of service. Get people emotionally engaged and they will surely listen to what you have to say.

:: Give … and give some more ::

It won’t kill you to be generous with your time and acts of kindness, especially if you are seeking to benefit from this relationship. Before you even think about asking for a donation, job connection, reference letter, or anything for that matter, you are required to invest in your business relationship. It’s not optional — give before you ask. For me, the more annoying part of networking is meeting people who just want to take from me. They want me to connect them to so and so or they want to pick my brain about important subject matter without even so much as offering what they can do for me in return. Hey, I love meeting new people, but I have a certain appreciation for individuals who are not greedy, but instead take the time to nurture our relationship and allow things to evolve organically.

:: Arrive early ::
Walking into the room late will often stir up anxiousness and nerves. Arrive early enough to get a good look and feel of the room, meet the host, give yourself a quick pep talk. By the time the crowd flows in you will be on your A-game.

:: Dress to kill… Always ::
My closet hasn’t seen a track suit in over a decade — find out why.  You only get one chance to create a first impression. Before you even open your mouth, you’ve already made a statement to the world. Yes, they are judging you. Should you care? The only thing you should care about is the message you are sending through your image and personal style. When you put your best foot forward, people notice and when you are noticed doors open, opportunities arise and the new girl on the block now has eyes set on her. There are levels to this. It’s called self-promotion and it’s an art every woman should know inside out. If not, you’ll end up invisible.  You have the power to say something about who you are and what what you stand for through your image, so don’t waste the opportunity. Own it!

:: Use mints :: Can I get an AMEN! Marc Ecko, American fashion designer, entrepreneur and author of Unlabel: Selling You Without Selling Out states, “If, at any point in the day, your mouth has been open and if you’ve consumed food, chances are that your breath stinks. Do yourself a favor and freshen up your face.”

:: Don’t give everyone your business card and never ask for one either :: Cards are expensive. If you have a bomb-ass (slang for really good) card then you know how much time you took to design it and how much money you’ve invested into it — and it wasn’t cheap. Do not feel obligated to give every Joe and Sally your card. Be selective. Be strategic. Give your card to people who you’re certain you will stay in touch with and can help you grow your life and business <– I learned this from Canadian comedian and playwright, Trey Anthony. On the flip side — Marc Ecko also taught me to never ask for one either. Let me explain why. If they wanted to give you a card, they would. Period. Don’t beg just keep it moving.

:: Know your story :: Who are you? What do you do? Have a clear definition of yourself and say it clearly. People want to be wowed by you. Don’t be afraid to dazzle. But don’t over-deliver either. The Globe and Mail suggests, “Prior to the event prepare a one or two line statement. The aim is to build your confidence, not win a major contract or job offer.”

Peace & Love,

Pauleanna

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