Getting Back Out There With Confidence
As we begin to get back to the ‘new normal’ and in-person events are becoming more frequent, it may take a bit of adjusting for many of us. Face-to-face meetings can be daunting at the best of times and with a distinct lack of them over the last few years it might be easy to forget how to approach a networking event and use it to your advantage.
Here are some tips on how to get your confidence back:
- Research key speakers and other attendees – have a plan for who you’d like to connect with and understand their interests/things you have in common.
- Introduce yourself but don’t go in for the hard sell – if people are interested in what you’re saying they’ll enquire more about what you do.
- Ask open ended questions and listen attentively to the answers – you never know when a connection or potential collaboration might present itself and you don’t want to be looking around the room when it happens.
- Be genuine and authentic – sounds like a no-brainer but sometimes people forget themselves when trying to impress.
- Have your “elevator pitch” memorised and ready to go – you might only get one chance to use it but be ready when it happens. Keep it short, 3-minutes maximum.
Now that you’ve made your way around the room and have made valuable connections, what do you do now? Keep the momentum going with some key post-networking strategies.
- Organise your thoughts and make orderly notes
Remember who you spoke to – make notes about who was there, what topics you talked about and the sorts of projects they are interested in. It can be easy to forget a conversation or (even worse) a name, the last thing you need is to re-introduce yourself at your next meeting. Awkward.
I like to note how they made me feel, what we had in common and any shared experiences. Rose coloured glasses can easily taint your judgement when looking for partners to collaborate with further down the track. “Get into bed” with people who you’ll actually enjoy working with.
- Add contacts into your address book – you don’t want to miss an email to ‘spam’ or not pick up an unknown caller. Timing is everything and people are busy – miss one call and they might not call back.
- Update your pitch deck/script/idea with any feedback you think will make your idea better. All feedback is good – you might not agree with it but it can even help you confirm what you are…and what you’re not. I often walk away feeling empowered, it helps me figure out who I am, what I stand for…and cements the idea in my own mind.
- Update your social media channels and your website – share your experiences with others and make sure your details are up to date. Social media people watching or ‘professional stalking’ as I like to call it happens whether you like it or not – so put your best foot forward. Linked In is my first port of call – I update anything relevant and then reach out to those I had a connection with.
- Keep the momentum going – follow up with anyone you were interested in or had a connection with – a friendly thank you for your time here’s my story/idea never hurt anyone. What’s the worst that can happen? You don’t hear back. But…what’s the best that can happen…the sky’s the limit!