Networking is a fundamental part of any new or established business and it seems to come more easily to some than others. A close friend of mine can talk to anyone about anything, she oozes confidence and always finds something to say (which probably explains why she is so good at sales). I’ve always admired that quality and to be honest, I’m slightly envious too. I wish I could be more like her.
Before I launched my business as a Virtual Assistant, I knew that I would have to network to gain clients and get my name out there, but talking to ‘strangers’ has never come easy to me. I have never been able to pluck up the courage to go up to someone and start talking to them. If someone starts talking to me, I can keep the conversation going but never the other way.
I can’t be the only one who feels like this…can I?
I guess the thought of networking is scary because it’s the unknown, you have no idea who you are going to meet, what they will say. What if they ask me something and I don’t know the answer, what if they tell me I’m boring? I think the biggest thing for me is going out of my comfort zone. I like my zone and prefer to stay there, but to build a business, I can’t.
I’ve always had a job where I was the ‘behind the scenes’ person so I’ve never had to actively network; if people needed something they would come to me.
I have my first networking event in May and I won’t lie, I am terrified. But a very close friend gave me some great advice. She said: as long as you know what YOU are talking about, you will be fine. It’s true, no one knows your business like you do. Maybe the first couple of times I will get tongue-tied and trip over my words but, like with everything, I will get better. If it goes really badly, hopefully I won’t see that person again and cringe every time I think about the conversation. I’m sure, in time, I will laugh about it too…eventually.
Probably I will stand outside the venue for about five minutes trying to pluck up the courage to get in there, but I’m pretty sure I won’t go all that distance just to turn around and come back. If that were the case, there would be no point in working for myself in the first place.
I will report back once I have been to my first event.
Watch this space…