Networking Skills: Overcome Your Shyness With Strangers
Act like a host, not a guest ...
Posted on: 15/04/2015 By: Jacky Sherman
The very first formal networking event I went to, as I entered the room, I was confronted by a sea of strangers. I suddenly got a huge fit of nerves. I'm naturally very shy and find talking to strangers really hard ...
So it was reassuring to learn that the top networkers in the world find it hard too. Here are two great tips I learnt as a client of The Referral Institute that continue to help me overcome my shyness when I go networking:
Act like a host
Think about it. Few of us feel shy when we're running the event. We're too busy looking after all the other people and we feel in control.
So what do great hosts do? They arrive early and are ready to greet their guests. It's so much easier to introduce yourself to people coming in than trying to introduce yourself to people who are already in conversation.
Hosts make sure others are comfortable, tell them where to put their coats and where to go for food and drinks. Remember, others are feeling as uncomfortable as you and will remember you as the person who helped them over their initial nerves.
They interested in the other person and find out about them and introduce them to others in the room to break the ice. Hosts take the initiative and start the conversation by asking their guests about themselves; then listen to what they say. All the time, be thinking "what can I do for you to make this event a positive experience?"
Good hosts look for lulls in the conversation and introduce new topics. They notice when someone is looking left out or lost and go over and check they are OK.
Be a host
Some networking groups actually have host roles. BNI, for example, has 'visitor hosts' where volunteer members take on responsibility for meeting and greeting new people. Many Chambers of Commerce have ambassador roles that serve a similar function.
If you're shy, this is a great way to develop your host skills as well as raising your profile within that group, so check out this opportunity in your groups and volunteer.
Volunteer to set up or clear up will give you time with your host and is well worth doing if it is appropriate. Health warning though: remember to act like a host and not the waiter!
So the very next networking event you attend, adopt the role of a host. Arrive early and focus on making other people feel comfortable and relaxed. You will get remembered which is what you were aiming for, isn't it?
Watch the video for some great advice and if you're new to networking, or want to improve your skills, why not read The World's Best Known Marketing Secret, by Ivan Misner et al and learn from the masters?
It worked for me and now I teach others how to do it too!