I have been studying this thing called “networking” which Merriam-Webster defines as: the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions;specifically :the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business. In my study I have found that many people have the hardest time saying these four words: Hello My Name Is. People actually get anxiety and cold feet from the fear of having to introduce themselves to complete strangers. Networking has become the social exchange of the world. If you are looking to land a job, they say go to a professional networking event. If you are trying to find the latest happenings in and around the city, you go to a networking event. If you are trying to build a business you may have to host a networking event. Either way, in today’s society if you want to be known, find a job, make powerful boss moves, and build relationships, you have to get comfortable being uncomfortable with saying Hello My Name Is…
Here are a few of my tips when you are learning to network and share you name with others.
- Start in your comfort zone (family gathers, work events, girls night out) These setting usually include a group of people you know and a few you may not know. This is perfect because you can walk up to a group of individuals that will include a mix of familiar and unfamiliar people. What usually happens is the person that knows you will start off by saying this is my friend…., and that should break the ice for you because now all you have to do is engage in the introduction and turn to the others, smile, extend your hand and say nice to meet you. As others come into the circle you are now in a familiar place so you can start off and say hi, then proceed to say my name is… It’s sometimes easier said than done, but I have learned that practice makes perfect.
- Start with a smile. Sometimes we wear our fear or show our discomfort on our faces. If you want to learn the art of networking begin by making small eye contact and smiling at others when you are at an event with group of individuals. If a person sees you smiling that may allow them to come to you first and you don’t have to worry about being the one that approaches others. This will break the ice for you, they will lead the introduction off then you just follow their lead.
- Start going to different events. Challenge yourself to be comfortable being uncomfortable. A lot of times we are invited to a party, social gatherings and we are the only person we know with the exception of the host. In these cases the host has to mingle with lots of people leaving you to fend for yourself socially. I say, get comfortable in uncomfortable settings. This is your chance to take steps in facing your fears of saying hello my name is… Begin by walking around the event, grab something to eat, go and greet the person who invited you, they may just do an introduction for you, but if you come in and take a seat you are limiting your interactions and it will be difficult to get in a comfort zone because you are telling yourself I can’t do this so I am going to stay right here and hopefully no one approaches me. Change how you think about networking.
- Start with a coach. I do personal and professional life coaching. Networking is one of my top conversations with my clients. They have said that talking with a coach and putting different techniques to work has helped them out a lot. I incorporate role play in my session which has really proven to be a great tool in getting my clients comfortable with networking.
- Start with personal affirmations. How you think is everything. Before going to an event or putting yourself in a position where you have to introduce yourself. Say, I am someone other people should know, I am bigger than the fear that prevents me from being me, I am not afraid to say my name.