Do you ever feel nervous about networking events? You know you ‘have to’ do them, but you secretly dread them and feel a huge sense of relief, once they’re over?
Or maybe you get there and scan round the room at everyone else looking so confident and like they belong and you secretly feel like a fraud, scared in case someone ‘finds you out’?
Or maybe you make your way through it, but you struggle with the small-talk and kick yourself afterwards, as you remember all the things you wish you had said?
I’ve worn those t-shirts in the past. I know how hard it can feel. And in the past 15+ years of mentoring entrepreneurs and passionate world-changers, I have seen, first-hand, how those secret networking fears can cause us to fumble introductions, forget names, clam up with embarrassment or even risk damaging your business by not going at all.
I’m going to a 2-day live event next week – Janet Murray‘s 2017 Soulful PR Live event next week. And, in the months since I booked my ticket, I have noticed how the idea of networking with journalists (super-scary attack-creatures, obviously!) has been pressing my old ‘networking’ buttons and I’ve seen it making others feel apprehensive, too.
It takes guts to go to a big event that’s all about visibility. Because ‘fake it till you make it’ doesn’t cut it any more.
The days of us being able to ‘pretend’ and ‘bluff’ our way through networking meetings are over.
Believe me – I love being on stage, but mingling with people afterwards? That’s much harder!
How Do Really You Feel About Networking?
If you’re anything like most of us, in the run-up to the event, you’ll be comparing yourself with the others who are attending, assuming they are all somehow cleverer, more confident or more ‘deserving’ of being there than you are.
Your inner critic might be pointing out, every few minutes, all the reasons why you’re not good enough to be there, how you might embarrass yourself, or why you’re wasting your time and money. And what if – heavens forbid – nobody likes you? And you stand in the corner on your own for the whole event? Ok, for some of us that’s simultaneously our worst nightmare and our dream outcome. 😉
If this resonates with you, then whatever it is that makes you nervous about networking, I’ve got two important messages for you today:
- You are totally normal. There is nothing wrong with you!
Most of the people in the room will have experienced some kind of networking nerves. But they, like you, aren’t letting it show on the outside. We don’t pick up badges at the door saying, “I secretly hate networking, even though I like people!”
- It doesn’t have to be that way – when you know how to ‘do’ networking in a way that works for you.
Just because some people are big and bold and super-confident, it doesn’t mean that’s the only way to network. When you find the way that works for you, you might even start to enjoy it.
There are two main reasons why we end up dreading big events, conferences or business networking.
It might be because you’re an introverted entrepreneur or because you’re running a dose of Imposter Syndrome (fear of feeling like a fraud) – or a bit of both.
I’m going to cover Imposter Syndrome tomorrow, in my next article on this. (Need urgent answers? Got Dare To Dream Bigger? Check out page 191 in the hardback edition. Search for “It’s time to stop feeling like a fraud” if you have the Kindle edition).
So for now, let’s look at whether or not you’re an introverted entrepreneur and what that means you bring to the party. Because yes, you might loathe networking, but you have some hidden talents that extroverted entrepreneurs have to work hard at, but which come naturally to you.
What Is An ‘Introverted Entrepreneur’?
Now, in this context, ‘introverted’ doesn’t mean ‘shy’ and ‘extroverted’ doesn’t mean ‘out-going’. It’s about where you get your energy from. Good old Carl Jung.
Does being around a group of people top up your inner batteries or does it drain you faster than a sink hole in a lake?
Do you love small-talk and mingling or would you rather scrub the networking event’s toilets, without gloves?
At the end of a busy day, if someone suggests a big group of you going to the bar, do you grab your coat, yelling, “Which one?!” or do you quietly sneak out the back way, hoping no one will notice?
Introverted entrepreneurs often struggle with networking because we feel overwhelmed by the energy of so many people, especially if it’s in a noisy place. We tend to be more sensitive to emotions and we can spot a ‘fake’ a mile off. So small-talk and niceties make us want to run. We’d much rather be part of a more intimate group of people where we can connect more deeply, get to know each other and make the most of our superhuman listening skills. Ok, so I’m generalising, but you get my drift?
Extroverted entrepreneurs love going out and meeting people – the more the merrier. If there’s a 2-day conference, they’ll be the ones organising the middle-night party, because they know how much it will boost their energy. It’s not about shy vs gregarious, but they are happier around people than reading a book in their hotel room. And they’re the ones that the event organiser has to kick out of the door, at the end of the day.
Fact: most networking events are designed to appeal to extroverted entrepreneurs and business owners, which is why we introverts can struggle with them – even dread them or avoid them completely.
But Introverted Entrepreneurs Have An Advantage – Three, In Fact
If you’re an introverted entrepreneur, then there are three hidden strengths that you bring to a networking event that extroverted entrepreneurs can find quite difficult.
Want to find out what they are? And how they can boost your confidence and effectiveness at networking events, helping you to ditch your networking nerves?
Are you more of an introverted or extroverted entrepreneur?
Hundreds of small business owners just like you have found this free quiz really useful. And when you’ve done it, there’s a short video training to reveal your 3 hidden strengths, if you’re an introverted entrepreneur.
Take the quiz now:Am I An Introverted Entrepreneur?
And then pop back here to let me know, via the comments, which of these 3 hidden strengths you’re going to make the most of at your next networking event.
I’d love to hear from you!
P.S. Are you going to Janet’s Soulful PR Live on 13th / 14th July 2017? Let me know via the comments and I’ll ping you a link to some super-useful ‘inside work’ pre-event resources, as my gift, so you can get the most out of the event. They’re especially useful if your Monkey Mind has been telling you stories about why everyone else is somehow better / more experienced / more ‘worthy’ of PR than you, or if you’re nervous about feeling like a fraud and would love to feel more confident. xx Clare