Face-to-face networking remains an important element of many businesses’ marketing, but it doesn’t come naturally to everyone. So what is the secret ingredient to a successful and positive networking experience?
This month I interviewed Caroline Rushforth, an experienced trainer, coach and mentor for business start-ups. Her style is different because she also uses NLP and wingwave coaching to dissolve subconscious blocks and negative self-talk to help business owners get more clients. So if you are dreading your next networking event, read on for some great insight in how to turn things around.
Why is confidence important?
Having the right mindset when going into a networking situation is hugely important for creating the right impression, but it’s not just about how you come across, it’s also how people feel when they interact with you. People need to feel that you are confident about what you have to offer so they can buy into it.
An enthusiastic entrepreneur can have passion in their heart and an abundance of skills or knowledge. But unless they have belief in their ability, they will find the technique of self-promotion very challenging. Confidence in what you have to offer requires congruence and self-belief that you are the expert and the person to fix the problem. If you don’t believe in yourself, why should anyone else?
What is the best way to overcome those pre-networking nerves, what do you suggest works best?
The best way to overcome any fear is to stretch your comfort zone and smash through it! Fear is a natural response to a situation that causes us to either fight through something or run away from it.
Grab a piece of paper and answer these questions:
- What is the worst that could happen if I did go for it?
- What is the worst that could happen if I didn't go for it?
- What am I sacrificing by not doing it?
- How will I feel after I have done it?
How can someone overcome self-doubt or those pesky voices in the back of their mind?
If you have something to sell but feel uncomfortable talking about yourself, you may recognise some of this internal self-talk:
- "They won't like my product/service"
- "They might say "no"
- "Oh no! Someone else is selling a similar product/service to me!"
- "My product is not good enough"
- Perhaps they don't have enough money to afford me"
Do you find yourself regurgitating some of these beliefs? If so, work on reframing your thinking by putting yourself in the shoes of the customer. They are potentially interested in buying your product or service because it will benefit them in some way. This will flip a problem into a solution.
What is the best way to boost our confidence when interacting with a potential customer?
It's well known that 90% of our communication is through body language.
When we are interacting with people in a networking situation, we can sometimes be distracted by our wandering mind. If we are constantly fidgeting and glazing over, people will feel like they’re not being listened to, and we all know how that feels, right?
The key to successful engagement is a balanced conversation that leaves both of you feeling refreshed afterwards. Always ask questions about the other person and flatter them in a subtle and authentic way to earn their respect so they remember who you are. People buy into your personality and do business with people they feel comfortable and valued around.
The best way to improve your confidence when promoting yourself and your business is to throw yourself in at the deep end and go for it! What’s the worst that could happen?