Adventures in your business suit
An adventurer is someone whose travels are unusual and often exotic, live by their wits and take part in risky or speculative courses of action for profit or position. (Wikipedia)
There are four key elements of an adventure:
This normally relates to outdoor adventures like rock-climbing, jungle trekking, potholing etc. So, why the business suit? It got me thinking; attending business events i.e. networking can also be an adventure consisting of those four essentials.
Let’s go on an adventure!
The journey starts when we accept the invitation. There is no doubt in my mind we all take a risk walking into a venue we haven’t been previously to face people we’ve never met before. ‘What’s going to happen; ‘Will anyone talk to me?’ I guess it’s like going into that pothole arriving at a tunnel or cave and choosing … or not choosing to move forward. Whenever we do anything new there is always risk, if you don’t feel you are up for it best not to agree to attending in the first case. Most people will be polite and courteous but you will meet a tiny minority of rude people. That’s part of the fun … or is it risk?
When we walk into that room we are fully responsible for our actions and behaviours. Networking is simply building relationships, either new ones or reinforcing existing ones. What we say, how we say it, how we approach people and move on is all being monitored by those around us. One slight turn of the shoulder excluding someone in a group or asking someone directly, ‘Are you married or do you have children?’ can destroy a relationship or stop it at first base. Let’s be natural; when we attend events far too many people play a role different from the person they are. Someone in business development in a major law firm recently said, “The trouble with solicitors when they go networking is they behave like lawyers and not like the nice people they are!” When you want to build trust speedily in a relationship you have to be reliable from the word go. When you promise to call, send some information or introduce someone having met at an event, ensure you always carry out your obligation.
As we approach a gathering our minds are generally filled with uncertainty. We often have limited knowledge to exactly describe what is to happen in those next few hours. I believe most of us have three primal fears walking into that room.
Fear of failure
You won’t fail when you spend time asking good questions, listening carefully and following up in a professional manner when an opportunity arises. When you focus on the other person and show interest people start to like you quickly. When you hear something you don’t understand ask them to explain in more detail what they mean. Many people love talking about themselves and showing they know something you don’t. This will endear you to them. You only fail when you don’t turn up, you do too much talking, you are impolite or, in my view worst of all, don’t follow up when you think you could move the relationship to its next stage.
Fear of the Unknown
Walking into a room where you have been before and knowing no-one is scary. Even I hate walking into a room full of strangers so I always avoid it. How? Simply by planning my day carefully and arriving early. I have presented for a decade asking tens of thousands how they feel and I can confidently say 98+% of people have similar fears.
Every room you have ever been in and every event you attend in the future is always formatted in exactly the same way. There will never be more than 6 formats. There is the single person standing against the wall. Couples stand in open and closed formats as do trios. Then there are the scary groups of four or more. My advice is to avoid the closed-formatted groups unless you know someone in there. Approach singles or open groups with a smile, good eye contact with a phrase like “Please may I join you?” or “Please may I introduce myself?”
Fear of Rejection
Most people won’t make that first move for fear of rejection. Fear, for me, is an acronym; it stands for False Expectations Appearing Real. We walk into that room full of negatives. ‘No-one will talk to me’ ‘I am not going to be interesting’ ‘What if I’m judged and found wanting?’ Most people are friendly and polite so leave those words behind when you arrive.
All I say is believe in yourself, Walk in and tell yourself you are a nice person and remember most other people are nervous. If it is an industry event they want to meet you, just like you want to meet them. The chances are they will be feeling the same kind of insecurities that you are, even if they are more experienced or further up the professional ladder.
Attending business events often requires us to extend our already long business day. We often give up premium private and social time to represent our business whether we are self-employed or an employee. This dedication to the job or our career should help us become more successful. It is vital we go networking to raise our profile, get to know others, gain information and knowledge, find new employees or a new job … the list goes on.
So when you do sacrifice our time for ‘the job’ make certain you don’t waste it. Don’t spend the whole time with just one person, ensure you ask good questions and when you do spot a potential opportunity to move your relationship forward always get commitment from the other person that they will be happy to hear from you in the next few days following the event.
Are you an adventurer?
Having read this article how brave are you to take that step over the threshold and start to talk to strangers? Those are the people your mothers told you not to talk to as a youngster. But you’re no longer of that era … it’s time for an adventure.
The author of this article is Will Kintish, leading UK authority on effective and confident ‘people’ networking. If you’d like Will to speak at your conference or training workshops, call him on 0161 773 3727. Visit www.kintish.co.uk and www.kintish.tv for further free and valuable information on face-to-face networking.