I really don’t enjoy networking. I say I do. I try to, but I don’t. I went to a conference recently with assigned networking time, and you could see groups forming in the room:

The super-networkers – they’re animated, draw a crowd, work the room shaking hands. They seem to know everyone already.

First-timers, trying to find their place. They generally are along the walls, looking at their phones.

The timid networkers, just on the periphery of conversations, nodding but not engaging.

The super-timid, still outside the door, or didn’t bother to come networkers.

Depending on the day, I’m somewhere in between all of these.

Why am I nervous?

When I’m working in my groove, I love what I do, and I do it exceedingly well. But I lack the confidence that anyone else would agree – looking around the room, I acknowledge the immense success of those around me, while not acknowledging my own. When the reality is, we’re all successful in our own right; however, we define it. I know that, but yet I still have self-doubt. I can see many of you nodding reading this. I doubt that I’m the only one in the room who feels this way.

Networking is a necessity, so how can we make it easier on ourselves. We know the benefits, such as, building our referral base, finding new clients, or staying on top of industry trends. So how can we do it better?

Here are our top 5 tips:

1. Know someone in the room that can make a couple of introductions – it doesn’t hurt, as long as you don’t cling to this person for the rest of the event.

2. Listen more than you talk and ask questions. We all value being heard, so listen, pause and then respond. People love talking about themselves and are more likely to want to meet for coffee later if you don’t spend the entire time talking about yourself.

3. Do a little research – who will be there? Are there key individuals that you want to meet and have a lot in common with? Is there someone who has recently been acknowledged for an accomplishment, or feature in media? Be up to date; it will make it easier to break the ice. You’ll also want to know who the organizers are and seek them out to thank them. Is there a topic or theme for the event? Do your research.

4. Arrive on-time. I prefer to arrive on the early side, this way I can pitch in on the setup. It’s an easy way to start meeting people if you offer to hand out name tags (and a good way to see who’s arrived).

5. If there is alcohol being served, and you’re nervous, choose to abstain. I always ask the bartender for soda water with mint. It looks like a mixed beverage, and most would assume it is. And also, eat before you go, that way you’re not trying to have a meal meant to be only appetizers.

What are your tips? Are you a networking guru? Or are you still struggling to commit to an event a month?

By Peggy Murrah, Founder of PMA Web Services

Author's Bio: 

Peggy Murrah is a unique combination of web and marketing savvy, along with dependability and resourcefulness. These qualities have been instrumental in her building a successful business that serves clientele across five continents. PMA Web Services provides marketing direction and strategies for entrepreneurs through mentoring, social media marketing, list building and management, and development/maintenance of their online presence.