When you hear somebody referred to as a “great networker”, what do you think? You might think of somebody who walks into a room and everybody knows his/her name, like Norm from Cheers. He/she then proceeds to speak to nearly everybody in the room. Or so it seems. Inside, you think that’s what you should be doing. You also know you’re an introvert by nature and that’s just not you.
So, what can you do?
The first thing might be to change your definition of a good networker.
“Working the room” may be natural for some. Yet the people who walk into the room and seem to be having conversations with everybody probably have met those people before at other gatherings. Maybe they did a one-on-one with them or even shared some business. Or perhaps they are introverts who have worked at the craft of networking to the point where it appears natural.
For most, networking isn’t first nature. It’s a learned skill.
So, how do you learn it?
There are many different strategies. Most begin with starting a conversation. If that’s not a comfortable thing for you, you need to set the bar very low. Here’s how: Make it a point to speak to the first person you see at any networking event. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Just:
“Hi, my name is…”
“Have you ever attended a __ function before…”
“What other networking events or groups do you attend…”
“What networking works best for your business…”
Remember, at one point in time, the stereotypical great networker you know walked into a room and did not know a soul. Networking starts by meeting one person at a time. Give it a shot and watch how easy it becomes to say hello to the next person you see, and so on, and so on…