Networking is icky. It’s the real-life version of talking about your business on Instagram reels. Cringe-factor 3000. Nobody wants to do it, but it’s the vegetable portion of your business health - you know it’s good for you, but it’s hard to swallow sometimes. But if you’re a freelancer or running your own business, it’s necessary.
So what did I do? I attended a business networking event. Alone.
Here’s what happened.
After being accosted on the street by a young monk wanting to sell me his religious books, I sidestepped his sales pitch with a smile and strode confidently into the speakeasy. I ordered a drink at the bar and navigated the stairs up to the mezzanine floor in heels I hadn’t worn in two years.
What did I learn from my solo attempt at networking?
You don’t have to ‘own the room’ - just show up because most people won’t even do that!
Here’s 6 tips to get you in the room:
1. It wasn’t scary at all
Don’t be afraid to network outside of your comfort zone. You never know who you might meet or what new opportunities you could find!
2. Everyone else is in the same boat
Research the event or group you plan to attend before you go. This will help you know who to approach and what topics to discuss.
3. You already have something in common with everyone in the room
Listen attentively and be sure to ask questions. Showing genuine interest and curiosity will help you build relationships and make lasting connections.
4. Ask questions and be approachable
Prepare some conversation starters and practice them in advance. You’ll feel more confident and it will lessen the awkwardness when you’re chatting with other networkers.
5. Be enthusiastic about your business (in a nonchalant way)
To make a great first impression, dress appropriately and groom yourself well. Don’t forget to bring a few business cards to help you stand out and give people something to remember you by.
6. Leave the sales pitch at home and make connections instead
Follow up with everyone you meet. Sending a follow-up email or phone call can help you stay in touch and maintain those relationships.