One Time, I Went to a Networking Event by Myself...
I find networking events to be nerve wracking, particularly when you are new to the group and maybe know only one or possibly two people tops. As a woman with my own business, I have had success networking with other professionals in the past. However, walking into a room of strangers, and forcing myself to go up to people and introduce myself can still be difficult! Sometimes I think I can’t do it.
Why don’t I ask someone to attend with me to avoid the stress? Well, as hard as it is, I know I will get better results by going alone. If I went with a colleague, we would talk to each other or people we already know for most of the event. You need to put yourself outside of your comfort zone to meet people. That's why I always put on my big girl pants and go in alone. Let me walk you through the experience.
My strategy is to first go to the bar and get a drink. This can be a great location to start a conversation. After that I circle the room, looking beyond the person in front of me, as if I’m searching for a colleague. This is really just a stalling tactic and does nothing, but it gets me walking around a bit. Then the fear sets in. I look around and wonder: “Why does everyone here know someone except me?” I think people are staring, thinking, “That poor woman is here by herself,” even though I know no one is really paying attention.
The secret to fighting this fear is to have a strategy before getting to the event. For example, your goal could be getting one business card for every 10 minutes at the event. After an hour, you'll have six new contacts to follow up with. That’s six new 30-minute coffee meetups or Zooms calls. You're bound to get leads from these 6 conversations.
I also ask myself some questions. What do I need to continue to grow my business? How can people in this group help me? What can my company offer to people at this event? I focus on these issues in my conversations.
Do I need all of these questions at the ready (or in my back pocket)? Not really. Most often I end up meeting some great people, laughing with them, and having a chance to meet with them again. I tell myself I’m fortunate that I get to go to networking events. It’s not something I have to do, but I get to do. I have to believe I’m not the only person in the room that's nervous. We all just have to walk through it!