Whether promoting a business or growing your career, women of influence know that attending local networking events should be a key ingredient in their recipe for success. In fact, experts agree that the most connected people are the most successful people.
But sometimes getting ready for a networking occasion creates a little anxiety and stress. And I’m not talking about deciding if the pumps or the boots look best with the outfit. I’m talking about our mental and emotional readiness. For many of us, just thinking about what to say and when to say it can feel more like planning for a blind date or a long 12-hour day at the office.
That is why I want to share three easy strategies you can adopt right now that will remove the stress and allow you to enjoy a worry free networking experience. More importantly, these three simple tactics will distinguish you above the vanilla predictable chatter and empower you to crush it with an irresistible fresh approach.
The first secret is, “Be Fully Present.”
By nature, networking events create an unspoken pressure to impress others with who we are and all we have accomplished. Being fully present means resisting that temptation. Being fully present means redirecting our energy to focus more fully on the other person. It allows us to intentionally connect with the other person’s opinions, ideas and challenges.
By doing so, we get better acquainted with the other person’s WHY. We go beyond just what they do for a living and seek to understand why they do it. It also means taking time to discover what motivates and excites them. It means understanding what makes their heart sing.
Getting to know the Why behind the What gives us deeper understanding of the Who. That is how you access a diamond mine of connection to glean powerful insight on ways to add value. That is when you discover golden opportunities to meet their needs, or at least connect them to someone who can.
Just for fun, try this simple exercise during your next event. Rather than engaging in conversation with the thought of how you can impress others, instead make a conscious decision to listen with your heart. While they are speaking, ask yourself the following questions: (1) How can I help them? (2) How can I connect them? (3) How can I encourage them?
Think of it as giving yourself the present of Being Fully Present. That approach will set you up to make the best impression of all… the impression of showing respect, sincerity and authenticity. And that is when you become unforgettable!
The second secret is, “Don’t Push the River.”
Many of us have been taught that having a rock solid agenda ahead of time will increase our probability of success at a networking event. For example, make sure you have a plan to garner at least three new appointments and ten new contacts.
Obviously there is nothing wrong with creating a plan to grow your network or business. But sometimes a rigid agenda can limit our success by making us task focused rather than abundance focused. Worst of all, it places boundaries on our thinking and expectations.
Maybe we need to consider a more expansive approach. Instead of believing you have to force good things to happen, train yourself to believe that good things are already happening! Rather than trying to push the river of opportunity, choose to approach it with a quiet confidence that actually draws the opportunities to you.
That means the serendipitous conversation you have with just one person could hold the key to a mega connection you never imagined. And that one mega connection might open the door to a series of divine opportunities you may have missed by sticking to a rigid agenda.
Yes we need to do our part and show up with our A-game. But it is equally important to include adequate margin for the supernatural. We need to leave plenty of room in our thinking and emotions for spiritual flexibility, for divine intervention or destiny connections.
Practically speaking, we need to recognize the gift of that unexpected five minute conversation. We need to elevate our perspective to see the big networks inside the really small ones. It might not sound very spiritual, but sometimes we can demonstrate our faith the most by making a conscious decision to simply let go and flow with the flow.
And lastly, “Have a Clear, Concise Message”
Whether at a networking event or social gathering, most people describe who they are with a job title and the company they are associated with. It seems the natural response to the overly predictable question people ask most, “So, what do you do?” Funny how we often answer a “What” question” with a “Who” answer.
But what if you could answer all those predictable What Questions with something completely unpredictable? What if you distinguished yourself with an answer that no one else is expecting? I’m talking about an answer that is uniquely YOU… an answer that focuses on the Golden Results you offer.
At a recent women’s leadership event, I was asked the same predictable question, “So Tawana, what do you do?” Rather than describing my title, my company, my degree or numerous certifications, I chose to describe the value and results I offer.
I chose to share my Clear, Concise Message by saying, “I help women of influence overcome immovable obstacles so they can manifest their highest potential and design the lifestyle of their dreams!”
The response I receive is always the same, “Wow! That sounds like something I need. Can I have your business card?” In fact, someone approached me several months ago and said, “You have the BEST elevator speech I’ve ever heard. How did you come up with that?” Needless to say I booked an appointment with them. J
Now just imagine what would happen if YOU had a Clear, Concise Message about the value and benefits you offer? Think about how one small adjustment would distinguish you from all the boring predictable job title answers in the room? Imagine how your Clear, Concise Message could elevate your value proposition and increase your attraction factor with the other person?
More than ever, decision makers are looking for results. Yes your title and degree is an important component. But leaders are mostly looking for solutions to problems and difficulties. So why not give them exactly what they are looking for! Why not make it easy for them to choose you, to refer you, to remember you?
If you don’t have a Clear, Concise Message about your Golden Results, no need to worry. Just use this simple formula:
I help people or companies (do or achieve X) so they can (have or become Y)
Now recall the message I shared at the leadership meeting, “I help women of influence overcome their obstacles so they can manifest their highest potential and create the lifestyle of their dreams!”
For those of us who have held multiple jobs with multiple companies, this exercise might be a little confusing at first. If that describes you, then try this easy approach. Simply review the roles where you experienced the greatest level of success.
Next, list the top three to five skills you employed to achieve those awesome results. Then summarize it into a sentence that best describes the problems you consistently solve and the benefits you consistently offer.
Let’s suppose you spent your career in some type of Sales Operations support working with various Customer Relationship Management tools. Your message could say, “I help sales teams fix breakdowns in their sales funnel so they can close deals faster and operate more efficiently.”
After you have your Message clearly developed, be sure to practice and rehearse it until if feels comfortable. Write it on a large sheet of paper (like a poster) and place it in a prominent location where you see it every day, multiple times each day.
You might want to stand in front of the mirror and say it out loud so your own ears can hear it. Read it over and over and over until it becomes part of you, until it totally represents you, until it IS you! And remember to keep it simple. Clear and Concise is the key here!
And for goodness sake, be authentic! Make sure you can back it up with proof when the time comes. You might consider including your Message on your business or networking cards. You could also incorporate it as a tagline in your resume.
If you need help creating your Message, contact me to schedule a free Clarity Call. Just email Tawana@Overcome4Good.com to get started.
With these three super easy strategies, you can send the anxiety packing and accept those invites with confidence. By being present, going with the flow and creating your clear message, you can get excited about networking again. Most of all, you will be equipped to network from the heart and then watch the opportunities chase you down!