How to avoid turning a networking event into a nightmare
We all know how modest freelancers can be when it comes to presenting their work. Also, how nervous they get when, among their audience, could be someone really important to their next accomplishment.
Networking may seem stressful but as long as you have well-structured speech combined with some other elements we suggest, you can become your own best marketer.
Just like any other strategy, networking needs practice and, well, sticking to some generally applying rules. We are well aware that, as a freelancer, you probably work best alone but networking requires you developing some serious people skills.
Either you are about to attend a networking event or a cocktail party, planning your moves beforehand can prove to be very productive. You need to be able to describe what you do in a few lines but in a way that illustrates your strong points.
This way, you can gain immediate attention and maybe establish a conversation topic that will make others want to join in.
It is highly recommended not to take over the conversation and make exaggerations. A good conservationist leaves room for other opinions to be heard and welcomes criticism with a smile and a well-structured counterargument. Your next supporter may be just around the corner; however, you need to know how that person looks like.
And by looks we mean, attributes. So before you start talking to everyone available in the room, decide in advance what kind of people you need to address to obtain the best results possible.
Additionally, the first impression you make highly depends on your handshake. You might want to practice a little on that, too.
It should be firm, but not squelching and you should always put on your best smile while handshaking. This contributes to being conceived as a pleasant, yet very professional, person. Who doesn’t want to do business with a person like that?
Body language is key
Networking is all about the mental connection between individuals which leads to successful collaborations. A highly reliable way to spot if such a connection exists is body language. The human brain is programmed to perceive and analyze body language signals in order to survive and act accordingly.
So to get a good conversation flowing you need to pay attention to your audience’s signals. Eye contact and posture are major players from that perspective.
When accompanied with gestures, they can either show engagement or even discontent, so do not disregard their powers. If you notice your conversation partner checking their phone frequently or their eyes do not concentrate on your face, they are probably looking for a way out. They may be really busy also, so don’t take it personally and don’t get discouraged. You should, however, let them move on with their evening. After all, you are looking for someone to share your exciting ideas with or entertain the thought of new ones.
Manage your time
Talking about ourselves is a trap that most people fall into because everyone loves doing it. However, it is the best way to bore your conversation partner and eventually tire them to death.
Psychiatrists suggest that in the early stages of a conversation a good 30-seconds speech is acceptable according to the traffic light strategy. As long as your partner is relevant to the topic you don’t risk overwhelming them with information. You can practice on that with a friend just like you did for foreign languages in oral exams.
It is essential that you don’t keep talking since you do not want to convey the message of ignorance about others’ opinion on the matter.
Relating is a big deal but you‘d better not brag on and on about your career. On the other hand, why not offer them the opportunity to talk about themselves, too? They will immediately become flattered by the interest you took in their work. You can start by asking for general information and continue with follow-up questions to ensure a smooth conversation flow. Apart from appreciating your good listening skills, you may also find out useful information and ultimately create a mutually beneficial business relationship.
Another way to achieve good results time-wise is to avoid aimless chit-chat with people that you can neither benefit from nor prove to be of service to. One of the advantages of being a freelancer is that you have an eye for opportunities so do not go waste your precious time conversing with no ultimate gain. We know it’s a hard thing to do, especially when in a good mood, but being a little opportunistic in networking events brings the best results.
Being a freelancer means the sky is your point of view and not the limit of professional opportunities. In order for them to come your way, though, you need to follow some well-tried practices to make sure you get the desired results. Essentially, all you have to do is be yourself. Well, your best version…
After all, it is you that made it all happen and your business is a demonstration of your unique strengths and talents. So, embrace those facts, let other people fully appreciate you and create valuable bonds that will last all the way to your professional journey.