It’s Business 101 we’re told; ‘You MUST attend Events? ‘BUT so many of us don’t. Why?
Google “the fear of networking” and the number of hits – 1,970,000! That fact alone tells you that many of us do FEAR Networking…. Costing you and your business potentially £1000s in lost connections and opportunity! So here I share two extremely powerful barriers getting in the way, making events and specifically Networking a LOVE/HATE affair!
Despite being a Business Speaker, a CEO and Coach…. I admit to feeling hesitation prior to some events. I manage and attend 100’s of events but remain fascinated by ‘WHY some people attend and WHY others don’t.’ The 2 laws are pivotal to the discussion and positively leveraging this space, enabling you and your business to benefit from events…including networking.
2 LAWS OF INACTION
LAW OF UNCERTAINTY
Recently, some of my key and (most committed) people felt ‘unsure’ about a new elite programme the Academy were running (highly bespoke & limited overt structure) Once on the programme they loved it, however it was clear that the lack of visible track, guides/outlines had left them questioning.
The experience points to a key lesson, which is vagueness can lead us to negative assumptions, simply down to the way most of us are wired to think. Anthony Robbins refers to this as “survival brain activity” others as the reptilian brain action – both in agreement that negative thinking is in fact designed to protect us.
In other words, we choose to not attend because we are not concrete on the details. The lack of certainty leads us to make assumptions about elements including the value, the possible connections, the return on time, energy and even the return on risk!
So, when we forfeit a meeting, miss a social occasion or a networking event…a key reason is uncertainty. The assumptions are compounded by the consistent barrier of social anxiety, the inner critic and even furthered by self-doubt. The odds really are not in our favour here! Before you know it, what may be a great idea is dismissed with any number of excuses all underpinned by the foundation principle of uncertainty.
LAW OF AVOIDANCE
One of my own practices as a professional communicator is to observe my thoughts, allowing better focus on my own learning. On occasion when presented with opportunities outside my own comfort zone, like many I feel a temporary but strong urge to avoid.
It may be a new event or even a meeting but despite knowing the benefits I am well versed in experiencing a NATURAL urge is to avoid and remain guilty of giving into this urge on occasion.
Interviewing many non-attendees from networking events who opted to avoid led to some interesting finds. A key theme from our focus groups suggested that the option to procrastinate was often chosen because of the IMMEDIATE gain despite the longer-term LOSS.
Going further, we can use the example of a networking event to illustrate this law. Imagine attending an event where there is an unwritten expectation that you may have to interact with a stranger. The very thought of interacting with strangers for of us is indeed outside our comfort zone and thus many will opt for non-attendance, subsequent isolation gaining a temporary high followed by a longer-term low.
Therefore “Avoidance” offers short term comfort, is often more COMPELLING due to our natural programming to avoid potentially stressful and awkward situations. In doing so we sadly limit our experiences, opportunities and the potential to live fulfilling social and business lives inevitably costing us massively in the process.
Fear breaking Strategies & Networking Excellence
Re-frame Internal Dialogue
Begin my recognising that internal thoughts/conversation exert influence on us – when we do that we start the process of thought awareness. Recognise what your inner dialogue is – some classic lines are:
“I think I might go to the next one….”
“It’s a bit steep, bit late notice, far-away”
“I am a bit tired, bit tied up, there will be traffic, parking will be a challenge”
“Not sure what to expect, might not be worth it”
By acknowledging you can exert control and balance through context you begin to OWN your inner dialogue and alter the impact it has on you. The example may be
“I think I might go to the next one…. However, if I test this event it will help me connect better at the next one”
“It’s a bit steep at £20…however I can put the expense against my tax plus the business growth and learning will outweigh the initial cost”
Note it’s accepting the initial thought but ADDING more context and is one of the numerous powerful methods we use to support our clients to gain greater self-confidence.
Build networking relationships before the event
Attending an event attracts like-minded individuals. By engaging with attendees of previous events, those who completed a testimonial, with organisers or future attendees you are building connections and accelerating the building of the initial relationship.
This is a power strategy in terms of tackling both the barriers and gaining business advantage.
Able to Build a Strategic Picture of the Event Attendee.
Plan and define your approach for those you may connect with.
Alleviate the lack of certainty and by pass the anxiety of isolation through EARLY INTERACTION.
Familiarity acts as an antidote to UNCERTAINTY – think of why taster sessions, movie trailers, mini- experiences are so powerful in getting buy-in – primarily due to erasing uncertainty.
Using social media is a powerful short cut and will ensure you have a few friendly faces to connect with immediately which also can form a mini network to introduce you to new relationships.
All of which are excellent steps to building momentum in stages ahead of any event.
Interact with Business problems, Trends and experts.
A great conversation topic to interact with is the latest news affecting business…for example GDPR has presented most business people with a great opportunity to hear and share approaches.
By commenting, engaging or starting discussions on social media presents an opportunity to gain understanding of the trends and form meaningful connections ahead of any event.
The no brainer opportunity is to target the guest speaker at networking events beforehand. Most guest speakers are passionate about their expertise and will welcome the opportunity to connect with new people ahead of the event – by seeking them out you can open doors, learn and again use as a vehicle to connect early adding to your level of confidence and comfort before the event.
Connect with Key Influencers
Every network will be run by a group of people wanting to ensure attendees are getting the most from the event. Therefore, identifying and connecting with organisers is an excellent strategy to position yourself but also put yourself at ease ahead of any event. You can go further by seeking out regular attendees, the guest speakers or those who appear to be engaged with the event.
Not only are you increasing your own visibility you are making it easier to be approached by others, furthermore you may impress such a person who then wants to introduce you to their network who may be that key connection for what you have on offer.
Finally take the pressure of yourself by slowing it all down – especially when it comes to relationship building!
Years ago, I learned one of the greatest end of the night lines from a Head Doorman helping people exit at the end of the night was to shout: “Drink Up please ……There WILL be …ANOTHER NIGHT!” – this line would miraculously help people leave the premises!
It’s true to say that we can encounter over-expectation from ourselves at any event, which in turn leads to overwhelm prior and during becoming counter-productive.
The key is to see your introductions as an opportunity to build second meetings. Your conversations are not about immediate closing and reframing this thought will eliminate performance pressure.
Practicing the GO-SLOW principle makes you more reflective, credible and instantly more attractive – all adding to your growing networking confidence.
Networking is like any other skill, and therefore important to LEARN, PRACTICE & ACTION.
Put simply; get yourself out there virtually and OFFLINE too.
And if you found this article useful please do share the article and your own NETWORKING Secrets too.
Public Speaking Academy are leaders in the field of personal development and business growth. See publicspeakingacademy.co.uk for our latest course and networking activities.