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10 Confidence building tips for nervous networkers

Updated: Jul 13, 2023

If networking comes easy to you and you don’t know what all the fuss is about you’re one of the lucky ones and you need read no further.

If however you’re one of the many people for who networking is way outside of their comfort zone and you’d quite frankly rather sit at home sticking pins in your eyes - read on, this is for you.

Why do you get nervous?

Anything that’s unknown can make us anxious so the very fact that you don’t know who will be at a networking event until you get there is enough to send you into a blind panic with negative thoughts running through your head…

“I won’t know anyone”

“No one will want to speak to me”

“I’ve nothing interesting to say”

“I get tongue tied talking about my business”

The thought of walking into a room of people you don’t know is scary enough, add to that the idea that you’re then expected to engage these people in conversation?? Erm no thank you! You don’t do small talk.

So what’s the alternative?

You either A) avoid them at all costs and focus on social media because you’re really good at making your Insta grid look pretty

OR B) you go to networking events and avoid speaking to people at all costs, unless you know them of course in which case you cling on to that person at all costs all night!

What’s the problem?

Your networking isn’t working and this only heightens your hatred of it and increases your resolve to avoid it.

Not only that, it’s also affecting your confidence speaking about your business. You are missing out on vital opportunities to practice and improve sharing your story.

How do you overcome your fear and start feeling confident?

I’m going to tell you something you probably already know… most of the people who are at these networking events have been nervous at some point too. They’ve gone through exactly what you’re going through and they are the right people for you to be speaking to because they will empathise with how you’re feeling.

It all comes down to practice. Networking is a great way for you to overcome your fear of meeting people and start speaking with confidence about your business

Here are 10 behaviours that are simple to follow and will help to build your confidence as you start networking:

  1. Be selective - start small and choose 1 or 2 groups at the most. One of the mistakes many people make is going to ALL the networking events (even though they hate it!) So you’re constantly meeting new people and feeling nervous. Pick one group and go several times so you get to know people.

  2. Be strategic - make networking part of your marketing strategy and it will become a priority. Have a clear purpose and you’ll find it easier to find the right events with people who are interested in your business.

  3. Be proactive - reach out and contact the organiser before the event. Ask questions about the format of the evening, what type of businesses will be there. This will remove some of the uncertainty and help you feel more relaxed.

  4. Be early - if you don’t like walking into a room full of people get there early. The organiser will be there and you can chat to them. They will almost always introduce you to the next person who arrives (it’s their job!) and there you go you have your first conversation up and running!

  5. Be friendly - treat meeting new people the same as you would meeting a new friend. Say you’re pleased to meet them. Tell them your name and make sure you know theirs and use it to help you remember them.

  6. Be present - when you’re having a conversation focus on that person, use eye contact and smile. It helps to create a connection, you’ll feel more comfortable and the conversation will flow.

  7. Be heard - sometimes it can get noisy as the room fills up so ask the other person if they can hear you ok. You may need to speak louder than you would usually. This is a great opportunity to develop your speaking skills.

  8. Be genuine - show an interest in them personally, where they are from, how they started their business, what got them into their line of work etc

  9. Be a good listener - keep your focus on the person you’re talking to don’tinterrupt. Active listening such as nodding or repeating a phrase shows you’re listening and builds trust.

  10. Be empathetic - one of the great benefits of networking is you’ll meet other business owners who you can relate to because you’ll share many of the same challenges. It’s good to know you’re not alone and you have someone else who knows how you feel.

If you follow these 10 simple steps you will start to feel more confident and comfortable about attending networking events.

Before you know it you’ll start to feel excited about going to your networking meetings because you know you’re amongst friends.

Well that’s what’s happened to me anyway!

Have you found this helpful? Would you like more help with building your confidence with public speaking? Check out the Bold Voices Speaking Academy where many of our members are just like you.


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