Getting results from attending a networking event depends as much on your attitude as whether you are going to the right event in the first place. In this article, we explore how to get the right attitude and mindset to achieve the best results from attending a networking event or group.
What is the small voice in your head telling you?
If you got a call now telling you that you were going to be attending a networking event this evening, what would be going through your mind? I strongly suspect some of these thoughts:
- Do I have time to be out networking?
- I wonder whether I will get any leads from this event
- I wonder who will be there?
- Why did I get asked? Surely someone else would be better placed?
- I hope I can avoid talking to so-and-so
- Please don’t let me get stuck with the networking cling-on
- Bang goes my evening…
And so on… In effect, whether we like it or not, we have a little voice in our head which is always talking to us. It may be recalling memories, imagining the future, or indulging in self-talk about ourselves, others or the situation. Some times this little voice can be helpful and sometimes downright unhelpful. The question is, how much do you listen to this voice as you are preparing or even working the room? How much are you challenging the voices in your head? How can you alter the unhelpful thoughts so they become helpful?
Take the pressure off: You don’t need to sell
Another burden many of us take with us into a networking event is the pressure to generate leads. After all, what happens when the pipeline is getting low? The call goes up from the partners for everyone to get out networking. Despite knowing rationally otherwise, we often trick ourselves into believing that we can go to a networking event and based on one quick 5 minute conversation win invoice-able business. Logically, if you sell a high-priced service or product, this just won’t happen. At best you may meet someone who may need your services or can introduce you to someone who needs your services. However, you still need to spend time developing the relationship and your credibility before the lead becomes a true lead rather than a prospect. If you head into the room feeling like you need to sell, it is any wonder how poor our experience can be when we are networking. If you head into the room focused on having a couple of quality conversations and meeting the people you planned to, it is often a very different experience when you work the room. Your aim is to find the right relationships to spend time nurturing and building – not look for potential clients in the room.
Challenge the self-limiting beliefs
Very often our negative self-talk is driven by our self-limiting beliefs. Now these self-limiting beliefs may be based on a previous bad experience when networking, or may not. Some of the common self-limiting beliefs I hear about are:
- I struggle to keep conversations going
- I am bad at memorising names
- I always get stuck with the networking bore
- I’m poor at starting conversations
- I don’t feel confident when I walk into the room
If you hold these thoughts in your head when you go and work a room, is it any wonder that you find yourself struggling to effortlessly work a room?
Be in the right room
So many people turn up to the wrong events. I don’t mean that they walk into the wrong room at the venue. I mean that they are going to events where they are unlikely to meet the sort of people that they want to meet when networking. If you find yourself networking for networking’s sake, then you are probably turning up in the wrong rooms. It is amazing how much confidence and positivity you can get by knowing that the right people that you need to meet are at the same event as you.
Arrive ready to network
I see this happening so often with professionals when they are networking. They rush off from one meeting to the networking event. Then they rush off from the networking event to the next thing in their busy calendar. As a result, they arrive flustered, leave flustered and never quite manage to get in any of those deeper and longer conversations which lead to the right conversations and relationships being had. Next time you head out to ‘work a room’ leave some breathing space in your diary to arrive refreshed, relaxed and mentally alert.
If you want to make sure that you have a highly beneficial time when ‘working a room’, spend time on making sure you have the right mindset to get the right results from your investment in being at the networking event.