So much of effective networking is dependent on how comfortable we are in social settings. I know, I know…duh. Yet most people don’t realize what a large part of their conversational personality comes across as less than authentic. Discomfort has a lot to do with that and is often the first thing people feel in a room full of strangers. How does one overcome this setback? I decided to ask an expert. Here’s what friend and peer, Marilyn Kleinberg, has to say…
Networking the Real You
So often I see a man or women at a networking event whose inner voice and body language says, “Get me outa here” but whose public voice says “hi my name is”. If this sounds like you or you know someone like this, let me share a little secret with you…that used to be me, too.
So what did I do? I started by asking myself why was I so uncomfortable? I realized what had me paralyzed was the fear of “what am I going to say, will they like me, do I have anything to offer, or the ever present…do I look okay?” For me, it stemmed from a place of insecurity.
And then I decided to get out of my own way.
Networking is nothing more than—and yet all about—the art of a conversation.
By just being me I can start a conversation about anything…the weather, sports, business trends, or about the crazy day I just had..as long as the discussion comes from a place of authenticity. In other words, I am interested in the answers I receive.
It’s pretty simple really. By approaching networking from a “how can I help you?” and not a “how can you help me” philosophy, you’ll open the door to conversations that will create commonalities, build relationships and foster a positive, authentic dialogue that can lead to new opportunities.
Also important for me, was the understanding that I don’t need to wear a pair of high heels and the “perfect fitted suit” to be accepted. I need to look businesslike and I need to be comfortable. I need to be genuine from head to toe, inside and out.
So just get over it and get on with it! People are waiting to meet the “real” you!
About the author:
Marilyn Kleinberg is the Executive Managing Director of eWomenNetwork Southern New Jersey and the former Vice President of the Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey. Marilyn’s a seasoned networker, a wealth of resourceful information and an interminable support to women and women in business. I welcome you to send her a shout-out at firstname.lastname@example.org .