Networking and learning to talk to people you don’t know is an essential skill for most business people, but especially for entrepreneurs. There is a strong correlation between the entrepreneur as a person and his or her business that requires they get out into the world to create and maintain business relationships.

Unfortunately, for many people the very thought of having to leave their comfort zone, risking the unknown and possible rejection, to talk to strangers creates so much stress it can prevent them from achieving all the success they are capable of in their lives and business … ultimately, sabotaging lifelong dreams.

Have you ever wanted to start a discussion with someone to promote your business but you were too shy or simply didn't know how to start the conversation, or how to lead it to where you wanted it to go? Or possibly you’ve considered giving direct sales or network marketing a try but haven’t because just thinking about having to talk to people you don’t know to sell or recruit makes you feel so anxious.

If this sounds all too familiar, you'll be glad to know there are a number of relatively easy steps you can begin taking right now to overcome your discomfort, and learn to be a proficient networker.


Challenge yourself to talk to one stranger a day, every day, for the next week.

If you are shy or new to networking you may find it helpful to start by simply spending time talking to people – not about your business. Pay someone a compliment. Be yourself, be present, practice smiling and making eye contact, and don’t worry about what you think you should say. You don’t need a script to talk to people. Ask them questions if you don’t know what to say. A lot more people than you might think are really open to conversation. The point of this exercise is simply to become comfortable talking to people you don’t know.

Once you’ve successfully completed this exercise, then you can try expanding your comfort zone further by setting a goal of talking to one person about your business each day and slowly build on your successes.

Don't forget to celebrate your successes along the way!


Sometimes people have trouble networking because they don't think they have anything significant to give back to someone who may be in a position to help them.

Sincere interest in the other person is a form of generosity and goes a long way when you're networking. Also, remember networking isn’t about immediate gratification, you may have something to offer down the road as your business and contacts grow.


The best way to make a connection with someone is to come from the heart and be yourself. What you say isn’t nearly as important as how you say it. Socializing is about exchanging energy, not being a wordsmith.

* Learn to ask open-ended questions in networking conversations. This means questions that ask who, what, where, when, and how as opposed to those that can be answered with a simple yes or no. This way of posing questions opens up the discussion and shows listeners that you are interested in them.

* Anticipate questions you may be asked. Have a clear understanding of what you do and why, and what makes your doing it special or different from others doing the same thing. This will help you to appear more professional and feel more confident.


When you are known as a strong resource, people remember to turn to you for suggestions, ideas, names of other people, etc. This keeps you visible to them. Sharing information—whether a website, article, report or phone number—with new contacts builds your credibility. So if you promised to e-mail a report to someone you met on the plane, make sure you do that.


In the course of networking, you will encounter people who aren’t interested in your business, or who can't or simply don't want to network with you. That's life, don't take it personally and don't dwell on it. It's all part of the process.


The person sitting next to you at a banquet or on an airplane may be feeling as uncomfortable as you are and will appreciate you breaking the ice. They just might be a fabulous contact for you or know the right person for you to talk to.

You just won't know until you try.

Author's Bio: 

My name is Marquita (Marty) Herald and I am the author and editor of the lifestyle blog, IGG - Tips, Tools & Tantalizing Ideas. My mission is to provide my readers with creative tools and resources to inspire you to take charge of your life story ... challenge assumptions, practice empathy and seek to understand.

I'd like to invite you to stop by and see what's new!