5 Success Tips For Nervous Networkers

Networking is the art of expanding, building, and strengthening your network of business professionals. In addition to furthering your connections with people you already know, networking involves approaching strangers so that you can forge new relationships with new opportunities. For some people, networking comes naturally and easily. For others, the concept may seem intimidating (to say the least).

The Importance Of Networking

Here at Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, we are huge believers in the power of networking. People want to do business with people - one of the best ways to help your business grow is to build a strong network of people who will not only use your products or services personally, but who will refer your business to their friends, families, and coworkers.

In order to help our members take advantage of the potential that networking has to offer, our Lake of the Ozarks Chamber of Commerce hosts monthly networking socials for both existing and prospective members. These socials are designed to give individuals a chance to come together and share business ideas, goals, products, and services with local like-minded professionals.

However, we recognize that the idea of networking may not be everyone's cup of tea. For some, the idea of approaching new people and striking up conversations with perfect strangers may seem like a daunting prospect. In an effort to make networking less intimidating, we've compiled a few simple tips and suggestions to help people get past their hesitations so that they can take advantage of all the benefits networking has to offer.

5 Tips For Nervous Networkers

If the idea of approaching strangers at a networking event puts a knot in your stomach, these tips may help you overcome this hurdle.

1. Use The Buddy System.
If networking seems scary to you, it's probably not because you're afraid of talking about your business - it's more likely because you're afraid of talking to people you don't know. You can ease this transition by going with a friend who can introduce you to their contacts. Having a friend along is also a helpful way to foster new relationships altogether, since the two of you can approach strangers together. Just be careful that you avoid giving in to the temptation of squaring off and exclusively speaking with your friend all evening.

2. Look For Small Groups
If you're trying to join a conversation with people you don't yet know, you'll likely have an easier time joining small groups of two, three, or four people. Groups of five or more tend to be harder to break into (and much more intimidating).

3. Ask Questions
Asking questions is the secret to networking success. Not only does it provide you with a valuable opportunity to learn about your new contact's business - it takes the pressure off of you from having to talk about yourself while you get your bearings. Once you have broken the ice, you can share some information about your own company in return.

4. Practice Breaking Out Of Your Comfort Zone.
Sometimes, taking an indirect route may just as effective. Rather than psyching yourself up to talk to a stranger at a networking event, start by tackling a different one your fears. Once you've learned (or at least attempted several times) to talk on the phone, deal with spiders in your house, or face one of your other fears, talking to new people at a networking event may seem much less intimidating in comparison.

5. Wear A Name Tag & Bring Business Cards
Name tags and business cards are networking staples. By wearing a name tag, you will automatically make yourself much more approachable. By bringing business cards, you will be able to easily exchange contact information with people you meet. You can also use them as a cheat sheet for yourself by scribbling impressions and other notes about your conversation on the back of your new contact's card.

Hone Your Networking Skills At Our Next Social!

Ultimately, all the preparation in the world can't possibly compare to the act of actually putting yourself out there. It might be scary at first, but as with everything else, it gets easier the more you do it. All it takes is a little practice.

Our next networking social is coming up on Tuesday, May 16th from 5:00 - 7:00 PM. The event will be held at Camden on the Lake, which is located at 2359 Bittersweet Road in Lake Ozark, Missouri. Specifically, the social will take place in Toad Island, a new Jamaican-themed restaurant at the resort. Free appetizers will be served, and a cash bar will be available.

For more information, contact Lake Area Chamber of Commerce by calling 573-964-1008. You can also RSVP to the event on Facebook.

See you there!

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