Networking is part and parcel of running your own business.
But that doesn’t mean you have to like it.
Take me for example. Since 2007, I’ve been running my own freelance copywriting business.
After teaching myself about the intricacies of SEO (search engine optimisation) and social media, I successfully marketed myself online to the point that 90% of new clients find me via Google.
After becoming established, recommendation and word of mouth have also generated a lot of business.
But at the bottom of the ‘business lead’ pile, is networking.
Because I hate it.
I don’t know whether it’s because of the introverted writer in me, but when I walk into a room full of strangers, I freeze.
The thought of walking up to a group of suits and joining in their conversation fills me with dread.
If someone does take pity and talk to me, I become tongue-tied. Eventually, once the ice is finally broken I begin to chat. Sure, I talk about how I help people, but it always sounds so contrived.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those networkers that launch into a sales pitch, thrusting their latest leaflet in the hand of everyone they speak to, I guess it’s just that I find the whole concept of networking false.
Everyone in that room is there for one thing – to gain new business.
I remember one event I went to years ago, it was a women’s networking event I think. As I grabbed a coffee and stood on the edge of the action, a woman approached me with the delegate list in her hand. As I prepared myself to chat, she glanced at my name badge, back at her list and then walked past because I wasn’t on her ‘hit list’. Not a great introduction to networking.
How do I become more confident?
The last networking event I went to was in London at a major bank.
As usual, there were more men than women there. Before it got going I chatted to a couple of women, and after the usual ‘what do you do?’ we chatted about family and other stuff. There was no pressure, just casual chit-chat.
I delivered my elevator pitch (yes, it was one of those events where you had 10 seconds to pitch) and then moved to the area designated for marketing and advertising types.
It was like a bun fight. Suits pushed passed monopolising the time of the people I needed to talk to. If it weren’t for one lovely lady who came over, chatted and introduced me to several people, it would have been a wasted evening.
I know what you’re thinking; “man up and grow a pair”, sure that’s easy for you to say if you’re the type of person who can do small talk and chat to anyone, but that’s not me.
So my question is, how do I get over this? How do I become more confident in this type of situation?
I’m a great copywriter, but a crap networker.
I need your help, so if you have any suggestions please let me know – sally[at]briarcopywriting.com