Be Better at Networking…

How comfortable do you feel networking? Most people will tell you that networking is a great way to get new business, find new collaborative partners etc. etc. But the truth is that many people feel very uncomfortable when they are in places where networking could be of value. This isn’t a reason to avoid it though – get better at networking!

Extroverts enjoy networking but these are a relatively small proportion of the business community. To most people it seems a little bit demeaning to be ‘forced’ to socialise with people to build business prospects. Networking is defined as individual’s attempts to develop and maintain relationships with others who have the potential to assist them in their work or career. This type of interaction is unnatural for most, and especially for those of us who feel awkward or shy to begin with.

Why? Perhaps you are cautious about opening up to people and do this slowly, maybe you can’t think of something to say. Maybe your nerves force you to become over enthusiastic. Rest assured you are in the majority here!

So, if networking is a good idea but you are uncomfortable in doing it how can you correct this position? Here are some tips:

Recognise the real importance of networking
If you don’t believe in the outcomes that you could get from effective networking, you will never be effective at it. It will have no real value to it in your head so you will ‘put it off’ or ‘leave it until next month’. The first step is to pause and reflect on the stories that you tell yourself about networking. Think about what positive things it could do for you and your business and you will remove the first barrier to being effective at it.

Think about the benefits to others
Don’t view networking as an exercise where you are trying to get something from someone else. Reframe your thoughts and look at it from the angle of those people you network with. What is it that you can offer them and what benefits will they see in their world by working or collaborating with you? Some of the ‘guilt’ that many feel about networking is eradicated as a result.

Be curious
Don’t pre-form opinions on what you are going to talk about. Fixed ideas about what you will say will not help if conversations go in a different direction. Go with the flow a bit – listen more than you talk and ask good ‘open’ questions of those you interact with from genuine interest. People like to be listened to and react positively to genuine interest. Focus your attention on curiosity. This will help quiet some of those fears. Most people love to talk about themselves, so you if you approach them with curiosity, they’re bound to feel pretty good about the interaction.

Before entering networking situations, take some time to ask yourself what you would really like to learn about this person and their experiences. Expressing genuine curiosity will allow the conversation to flow much more smoothly than if you’re faking it.

Summing up, networking can benefit business progress enormously. Start thinking about what it might do for your business if you were truly effective at it and deploy some of the ideas above to start you on the journey to be a better networker.

If you need some help improving your networking skills get in touch with us at or call us on 01162325231.

The Tinderbox Team