How do I get better at networking?

I understand that networking is important, but it’s very hard for me. I don’t know what to say to break the ice and I dread “chitchatting”! I don’t feel comfortable talking to strangers, but this is a skill I would like to develop—can you help?

What a great and honest question! Here are some tips:

Deciding you really want to communicate and know others is the first step. If you don’t truly want to connect, your efforts will be doomed. People are very perceptive and pick up on the smallest clues that you really don’t want to be talking with them. It might help not to think of it as chitchatting—you may do that in the beginning, but you can usually find a topic both of you are interested in.

Just do it. Most people attend functions to meet other people. They will be glad that you came up to them. (I’m my sessions I offer ten ways to break the ice which include asking someone else to introduce you; the simple big smile and extended hand with “Hi, I’m So and So”; and my favorite—a sincere compliment.) You don’t have to be perfect or slick or anything else—you just have to do it! Most people will be glad you did.

Fake it till you make it. If you pretend to be confident (good eye contact, big smile, extended hand) people think you really are confident. They’ll respond to you that way and guess what? You’ll start feeling confident!

Realize how fearful and intimidated others are.
Most people are more intimidated by YOU than you realize. If you’re an introvert you may seem quiet and withdrawn which some people may mistake for arrogance. I know it seems ridiculous, but the more you smile, the less scary you are! If you can focus on putting
others at ease, you’ll be a great networker in no time.

Keep learning. Read Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. Networking with others is vital to your success. Treat it like any other professional skill – learn about it, practice it, get better at it. You can’t run from it, you can’t hide from it, you can’t avoid it. Pretty soon, you won’t even want to!

P.O. Box 31692
Raleigh, NC 27622
Phone 919.788.0291

Bookmark and Share

A Proud Member
Of the National Speakers Association