Yesterday I spent some lovely hours at my preferred hairdresser, Renaissance Organic Hair Salon, in Nelson. Vicky Chapman, my favourite senior stylist, is a gem in making me feel and look fabulous.

She and her colleagues often refer their clients to related businesses, while chatting about all kinds of topics. In the hall is a wall with heaps of business cards. I love it! It’s an ideal place to browse and to find business owners, coaches, and practitioners who all share a green heart for people, animals, and the planet.

My scalp was very itchy. I have had psoriasis since the age of 10. Now and then the itching really makes me crazy. I realised I had changed my shampoo recently. Even though it’s a 100% natural one, I could be allergic to one of the ingredients.

Anyway, it made me think of Nelson’s organic brand Pure Peony. I already had some of their soothing skin repair crème and was hoping they sell shampoo as well. Luckily it was market day today, and yay, there I saw Dot in their Pure Peony stall. We talked about my itchy scalp, so she could learn what I needed and also learn how they can expand their marketing.

I also loved chatting with Michael, husband of Judy Keylock. She is committed to sustainable fashion and accessories that don’t cost the earth. Silk dresses, shirts, shawls, merino blankets, and linen towels, they are all beautiful and purely natural with interesting patterns by hot compost dyeing.

Last-but-not-least, Matt from Found Tempeh shared his and his partner Tatiana’s passion for their different varieties of organically made tempeh. He listened well and shared his advice on the best tempeh that matches our taste. And wowww, what a special taste and texture! Check them out on Instagram.

Networking sounds like a hard of work, doesn’t it? I guess it’s all in the word itself that sounds like “throwing out a net and working hard to ‘catch as much fish’ as you can”.

But actually, networking is all about listening, giving and connecting. Hi Dot, have you offered your business cards to Renaissance hair salon yet? And Vicki, Pure Peony is a great product to advise to people with eczema and psoriasis.

I love connecting people and in my case green-hearted business owners. I love to offer them a free platform to share their fabulous products and services to the world. And I love to hear their unique stories for my book-to-be.

Many of my clients say “ah, I don’t like networking at all. I’m an introvert and I feel soooo uncomfortable when entering a hall and seeing so many people. I’d rather talk one on one with people or in a small group.”

Oh yes, I totally relate to that! I used to be extremely shy when I was young. So shy I didn’t even dare to ask my teacher for a new pen. And although I have an extravert part in me, my introvert side is very strong too.

The worst thing is when groups of people are chatting with each other and you are the last one coming in. How to break in, without feeling like a fifth wheel? And how to start speaking to total strangers?

You’re not alone. Absolutely not. According to research, 30 to 50 per cent of people have some degree of introversion. And, we haven’t learned how to do networking properly either.

Here are some tips to become a confident networker:

  • Come prepared, read the latest news or an interesting article around the topic or speakers of the event.
  • Prepare a list of questions as conversation openers, both small talk and open questions related to news or articles you read.
  • Set your intention on listening, giving and connecting; forget selling or finding potential clients.
  • Come early so you don’t have to walk into a room full of strangers.
  • Breathe deeply and remind yourself that you are equal to all people present; stop selling yourself short.
  • Position yourself close to the drinks table so it is easy to spot who came alone as well.
  • Smile, approach someone and say a welcoming word; the other person will be glad that you took the initiative.
  • After introducing yourself and what you do, ask your conversation partner an open question; you can also ask if they recognise any challenges related to your business and let them talk about their experiences.
  • Keep your drink in your left hand and the other one free, so you can shake hands.
  • Ask more than you speak and learn something new by listening.
  • Relax, don’t expect certain outcomes.
  • If you are in a conversation with someone and a new person approaches you, open up the space and welcome the other person in.
  • Ask how you can be of help to your conversation partner; what or who is he or she looking for? Find ways to offer value.
  • Write down interesting facts or how you could help them on their business card.
  • If you want to leave the conversation, thank your conversation partner for the inspiring talk or introduce him or her to someone else you know or to someone you have spoken with before.
  • Follow up within a couple of days.

Everyone, yes you too, has excellent networking skills and a unique approach. It’s a muscle that can be trained. Believe me, my teachers at school would never have thought that one day I would be a networking expert 😉

So can I help you? I’d love to. What is your networking challenge? Let’s talk about it in a free discovery call. Here’s the link to book your free 30 minutes session on Zoom or Skype with me; and it’s easy-peasy to see all options in your own time zone: https://calendly.com/wayfindingentrepreneur

Happy listening, giving and connecting!

Warmly,
Monika

Do you recognise this? What are your best networking tips? I’d love to hear your comment 🙂