Networking smarter helps you gain better clients and save time.

Do You Fear Networking?

And what to do about it!

If so, you’re in very good company!

Fear is a necessary part of life. Can you imagine what would have happened if our ancestors weren’t afraid of fire? Or cliffs? We might not be here! As children we were warned, “Don’t talk to strangers!” This helped ensure our survival. But fearing “strangers” (part of our aversion to networking) doesn’t serve us as adults—or help our businesses thrive.

How do you overcome fears? Don’t bother trying. Instead, identify them, accept them, and create solutions that will turn fears into exciting adventures. As Susan Jeffers says, “Feel the fear and do it anyway.”

Below is a list of common networking fears that business coaches hear from their clients. Place a check mark near YOUR fears (or add your own).

  1. I’ll draw a blank and not know what to say.
  2. I’m not _(fill in the blank)_ (smart enough, successful enough, etc.)
  3. I’m too _(fill in the blank)_ (fat, skinny, ugly, etc.)
  4. It’s one thing to do introductions, but how do I maintain the conversation, keep it lively?
  5. I’m afraid I’ll sound pushy or alienate people.
  6. I feel phony and inauthentic.
  7. My feet hurt when I stand in heels too long.
  8. I’ll say something to “stick my foot in my mouth”.
  9. It’s impossible to break into established groups.
  10. I’m an introvert; I don’t have an “outgoing” personality.
  11. People drain me.
  12. I won’t have enough stamina to be “on” for the whole event.
  13. Networking is boring.
  14. Why go? It will be the SOS (Same Old Stuff).
  15. Strangers will think I’m manipulating them when they discover I’m looking for business.
  16. I’m not good at marketing.
  17. I don’t like to talk about myself.
  18. It scares the living daylights out of me!

Our fears do protect us; however, they can also hurt us by keeping us stuck. What’s interesting about your networking fears is that they’re not just about networking. They’re the same fears you have in other areas of your life. If you think about it, you may have chosen your career in massage because you enjoy the relative solitude and can avoid the bustle of business-y meetings.

“The difference between fear and excitement is …breathing!” –Author Unknown

A recent Carnegie study showed that 85% of a person’s career success depends upon his or her ability to effectively relate to and interact with other people. So, what can you do if the thought of networking sends chills down your spine?

Networking Despite Your Fears

Luckily, most of us are able to discover many benefits that make networking worthwhile—and not so scary.

At its core, networking is about creating relationships. You need to genuinely connect with the person to whom you’re talking. Well, isn’t that sounding less scary? Haven’t you already mastered that with your current clients?

In fact, according to The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, the definition of networking is: “To interact or engage in informal communication with others for mutual assistance or support.” Ah ha, you’re good at that, too.

Networking 101: Relationship Building

If you don’t like the term “networking,” think about it this way: it’s about listening and THEN sharing your expertise—and referrals, too. Just like any relationship, developing a good business contact takes more than one meeting. Think of networking as an activity that—over time—builds long-term, strategic partnerships. You don’t “do” networking; you enjoy it as a part of who you are.

Did you know that every person you meet knows at least 100 other people? And each of them knows 100 people. So, when you meet one person, you’re really meeting everyone they know, too. People conduct business with people they know and trust.

“The truth is you can get more new clients faster by networking than any other marketing method.” — C J Haden, author of Get More Clients Now

You may have noticed that business occurs in cycles, up and down. Don’t get lazy about marketing when you’re busy or rely on word of mouth exclusively. You must cultivate relationships to secure future clients, because you never know who will become a client—or when. A consistent flow of clients begins with networking.

Whether you’ve moved to a new city, just started a business, or want to grow your existing business, building a community with lots of connections is essential for your personal and business evolution. Remember that networking isn’t about instant gratification—it’s about long-term success. Relationships—business and personal—take time to develop.

Massage therapists have an additional reason to network. In your business, you expend a lot of physical and mental energy. If you don’t venture beyond your four walls, isolation and its long-term effects—including depression—may set in. Still not convinced about the rewards of networking? Many associations offer group rates to their members for health and liability insurance and other services.

Once you decide networking is nothing to be afraid of, you’ll use it effectively to grow your business. And of course the more people you meet, the less strangers you’ll find.

© 2002, updated 2011 Elevating Your Business. An unstoppable entrepreneur, Maria Marsala is a strategic business coach, speaker, and author of eight workbooks geared toward helping accountants and financial advisors grow their businesses to serve their lives — not the other way around. Visit www.ElevatingYourBusiness.comto learn more. While there, sign up for Focus! Ezine, a newsletter jam-packed with Maria’s singular brand of tips, tricks, and priceless strategic business advice.

With special thanks to Christine Mifsud, of WordPower Marketing who updated, no she rewrote this article, for me.

10 Ways For Introverts To Develop Confidence In New Situations

Summary: Very few people are at ease striking up a conversation in a room full of strangers. Here are some simple ways to make network meetings and speaking events more productive and  fun.

Do you enjoy one-on-one networking, however, the thought of walking into room full of people you don’t know horrifies you? You’re not alone. Yes, even an introverted 1:1 social butterfly, President of the Social Committee in High School, and avid networker knows how you feel. Here are some of my tricks. And they have all worked!

  1. Registration Volunteer
    A great way to network at a conference is to volunteer at the registration desk. Why? You get to say hello to everyone who registers in your line and everyone who registers gets to see you behind the registration table. At the event, you’ll feel more comfortable talking with people because you’ve “met” them already. If those aren’t enough benefits, people will “recognize you” from the registration desk, and be more likely to come talk with you.
  2. Group Volunteer
    Once you join a new association or group, ask the Chair or membership person what volunteer opportunities are available.  Take on a small or large task, based on what you like to do, have time to do, or volunteer to do something you do in your business to quietly help you market your business.
  3. Arrive Early
    Always arrive 30 minutes early to get comfortable in the room.  Wear your name tag, too.  You’ll meet other early attendees and won’t notice the room getting crowded until it’s too late!
  4. Get Comfortable
    When you speak arrive an hour early. Get a feel for the room, pick a place to sit, etc.  Feel free to ask that the seating in the room be changed (although many event planners ask speakers how they’d like the room arranged) so that you’re more comfortable speaking.  Greet attendees with a big “hello my name is …” Bring name tags or recycle the bottom part of old Manila folders by creating tents and have each person put their name on it to put it on the table in front of them.
  5. Call First
    When you are planning to attend a networking type meeting for the first time, call up whomever you can from the organization. Ask them questions about the group and tips.  Find out about the dress code.  Is it in jeans, business casual, business, or formal. Then you’ll arrive feeling more comfortable along with “knowing” someone that you can look for when you arrive.
  6. Brand Your Nametag
    Carry a name tag in your glove compartment. Make one for personal use, another for business use. Then people will feel more comfortable walking up to you in meetings.
  7. Make Your Notes Fun
    If you’re speaking or introducing someone, there is nothing wrong with bringing notes to the lecturn. Consider putting them  on the back of duplicates of pictures (photography) you’ve taken. Then they won’t stick out so much from the podium (like white paper or index cards do.)
  8. Elevator Speech
    Develop two 30-second commercials (also called elevator speeches or USP – unique selling propositions). I call it a “Business Snapshot” because it’s a quick description of who you work with and the benefits they receive.  Create one for personal use, and the other would be for business use. At a recent TeleClass I attended, provided by Jay Levinson of Guerrilla Marketing fame, he suggested creating a 7 word commercial, too.
  9. Practice
    Practice some opening lines and your handshake before you attend the event. Practice using a mirror and ask your family to let you practice on them, too.
  10. You’re Human
    Remember that everyone in that room is a human being, too. We all put our pants on the same way! As such, each of us has their own fears to deal with… and they might even be the same as yours.

Find other ways to build your confidence, too.   Tell me the ones you use below!

© 2011 Elevating Your Business. Maria Marsala, a former Wall Street trader, founded Elevating Your Business to provide focus and accountability to independent accounting and  financial professionals seeking to substantially grow their business. EYB provides business planning, management and marketing advising services. She customizes solutions to detect and overcome each client’s unique obstacles, helping them create the business and lifestyle they only imagined possible.  Get started today by downloading our Business Evaluator at www.ElevatingYourBusiness.com

Tell us about your company / in less than 35 words

Networking strategically is important all the time and a very good use of our expense money. I learned that on Wall Street when I had an expense account . Every now and then my boss would notice a name on my AMEX card that he didn’t recognize. I had to explain the “who what where” of our meeting, then it as approved.

Networking strategically in these economic times is imperative. It “puts the boss back into our businesses” when we wear our boss hat and watch who we’re spending time with or where we’re spending our training or networking dollars.

And it’s so important to capture the attention (or repel people) at meetings or even through your profile. (Of course, that’s AFTER you ask them “so tell me about you”,  learned some and want to continue to talk to them.)

I’ve been working on my elevator speech (I call it a business snapshot). It’s
Who do you help:
What are the results:
How do you do it:
Give an example:

This is the one I just started using this week. At my book club meeting yesterday my action action step was to practice it, hone it and get it out there more …

It’s

We helping overwhelmed women B2B owners become “big shots”; substantially increasing sales and productivity as they work less.

When you do the first two parts well, people will ask you “how do you do that” and then you can give then an example!

Tell us about your business in 35 words…. it’s a good game to play, especially since often we only have a brief time to get our point across.

  • What’s your name
  • Who do you help
  • What are the results
  • What’s your website URL

My name is Maria and at Elevating Your Business we helping overwhelmed women B2B owners become “big shots”; substantially increasing sales and productivity as they work less.  Learn more at http://www.ElevatingYourBusiness.com

10 Questions You Must Be Able to Answer Before Going to a Networking Event

An elevator speech (verbal logo, business snapshot) or Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is a “must have” for networking. But so are the answers to many other basic questions, too. These maybe questions that business owners don’t readily have their own answers to but should!

They aren’t as neatly answered by your USP, so consider practicing your response to each of them. How? Use your mirror and practice on your family and friends.

Think about networking as a job interview with several interviewers–and as with an interview, you have to think about your experiences and sum them up neatly, demonstrating how your expertise benefits others.

And remember. When you’re networking and you ask someone these questions and they answer them really well, it’s because they practiced the answers!

1. So, who do you work with? Who are your clients?

2. How long have you been doing that? How long have you been in business?

3. How would I know a good client for you?

4. How do people get in touch with you?

5. How do you help your clients?

6. What results can someone expect after working with you?

7. Tell me something exciting that just happened to one of your clients.

8. What would I hear your ideal clients say?

9. So, tell me about yourself…

10. Is there another business owner you’d like to meet?

Don’t let one of these questions below catch you off guard! Remember, the answer to the NY question “How Do I Get To Carnegie Hall” is practice, practice, practice!