The enemy of growth is isolation.
I just read that quote, attributed to Aldonna Ambler at a NAPO conference years ago. It seems applicable, since I just wrote on my organization blog about using a Time Map to cram it all in and achieve your goals.
One of my goals is to network more, to be out there more. I hear over and over again how difficult it can be for the self-employed to spend time marketing themselves. I agree. I want to write, edit and work for others, not spend time shaking hands in a room full of strangers. Hey, we all get shy once in awhile.
But aside from finding new clients and connections, for those of us who work out of our homes, networking provides a chance for some social interaction.
So here are several ways to make the networking easier:
- Create your own name tag. At most events, you can write you name on the sticker and affix it to your sweater. But if you make your own, you can add your logo, your name and twitter handle or email address all in a nice format that doesn’t remove bits of shirt when you peel it off. I googled “create your own magnetic name tag” and came up with several results.
- Put your name tag over your right clavicle. When people shake your hand, their eyes will automatically look to that spot. Make it easy for them.
- Practice your 30-second elevator speech before you go. Thirty seconds — or less. How can you best summarize what you do in a way that makes it sound like a service someone needs? Practice in front of the mirror until the words feel comfortable.
- Find someone standing alone. Networking events are full of people who don’t know anyone. Just like you. If you see someone standing alone, just go up and introduce yourself. Ask him/her questions.
- Stand alone once in a while. Other people will feel more comfortable approaching you if you’re not surrounded by a group.
- Think of a unique question to ask people. Yes, we all have to ask, “What do you do?” But how can you mix up a follow-up question to make yourself stand out? You’ll be more memorable later and he might actually dig that card you gave him out of his pocket and use it.
- Bring business cards, but be prepared to offer your information in other ways. More people are ditching the paper cards for smartphone applications. Be sure you can easily provide them with a text message or email containing your info instead.
What are your tricks for making networking events easier?