TIPS to NETWORKING S K IL L S E V O R IMP in a SNAP By DEDE MURCER MOFFETT
ou know that promoting your brand with other professionals is a musthave skill in today’s business environment. Being able to connect with the right people is often the best (and sometimes the only!) way to leverage your expertise and experience into actionable opportunities. But knowing and doing are two different things. If you’re like many women, the word networking makes you feel uncomfortable, nervous, or downright terrified! Whether you aren’t socially confident, are intimidated by approaching big names in your industry, or are afraid of rejection, you tend to disengage at professional events (and then beat yourself up afterward for sipping a drink on the sidelines and only talking to people you already know). The good news is that you don’t need a personality transplant to break free of the limiting beliefs that are boxing you in. When you start to see new achievable possibilities (or as I like to call it, SNAP!) in networking, business, and life, you will become more productive, confident, and successful. Here are six tips to help you put some SNAP into your next networking event.
Being able to connect with the right people is often the best way to leverage your expertise and experience into actionable opportunities. yourself that they’re normal—not red flags!—can be a game changer. Instead of allowing them to control you, you’ll be in a place to manage them.
Quit telling yourself scary stories about networking. Do you walk into a professional event and immediately jump to a conclusion about what other people “must” be thinking about you, and why they’re “definitely” behaving a certain way? This type of thinking will quickly fill you with dread and distrust and might even drive you to hide in the ladies’ room until it’s time to go home. Instead of telling yourself scary stories, remind yourself that it’s a privilege to mingle with so many respected, accomplished people. Choose to see the event as an opportunity for growth, not humiliation.
First, come to terms with the fact that you can’t eradicate discomfort. When we feel discomfort or fear, our primal instinct is to shut down or run. Expecting these feelings and assuring
Practice networking with visualization. Utilizing all five senses, imagine your next professional event in as much detail as possible. Where are you? What are you wearing? Hearing? Eating? Who else is with you? Now, visualize yourself approaching and having conversations with the people you want to meet. Practice as often as possible, and allow yourself
to feel the butterflies that will also be present at game time. You’ll be much less likely to stall if you’re used to pushing through anxiety and dread. Notice how much time it takes you to calm down. The next time you connect with new people, pay attention to how long butterflies and anxiety stick around. (Three minutes? Five? Ten?) Knowing how long it will take you to regain your equilibrium will help you to accept, live with, and even welcome your nerves instead of fighting them.
Be prepared to shut down your limiting beliefs. We all have “that voice” in our heads that tells us why we can’t or shouldn’t step up. It’ll describe exactly why you aren’t good enough, smart enough, or qualified enough to connect with, well, whomever. (For some reason, my naysaying voice sounds exactly like Bette Davis!) You need to realize that Bette’s job is to keep you safe by steering you away from risks—even if that means sabotaging your success. Politely decline Bette’s suggestion to play it safe, and then remind yourself of how much you’ve worked and prepared to create the opportunity in front of you.
Connect with a purpose. Use your energy and momentum wisely by chatting with people who are connected to your goals. Identify and seek out people who will be able to help you get one step closer to fresh opportunities (e.g., a prospective mentor, a potential client, or a well-known alum from your school). Yes, these people will almost certainly intimidate you. Focusing on why you want to connect with them can give you the strength of purpose you need to step up. Finally, no matter how prepared and professional you are, you’ll encounter some people who aren’t exactly friendly. Don’t let their bad attitudes keep you from seeing new achievable possibilities in business and life. Remember, stepping up and speaking out in a new environment is always daunting. But you’re strong enough to survive a few minutes of discomfort, right? The client, business partner, mentor, investor, or opportunity you’ve been waiting for might be on the other side of that next handshake! t DeDe Murcer Moffett is an international speaker and the author of SNAP Yes! The Art of Seeing New Achievable Possibilities in Business and Life. She specializes in helping individuals and businesses overcome obstacles, change faster, and increase engagement. Learn more at www.dedemurcermoffett.com.
Colonel Maureen Weigl is the cover story. Inside, tips to improve networking, health and wellness, career strategies and more.