Me before networking: “I don’t want to do this.”
Me during networking: “I don’t want to do this.”
Do you ever have those days where you feel super-confident? You know … you dressed the part, you say the right things, you’re working the room, making new contacts and the nerves are at bay?
If so, good for you.
As for the rest of us, we are nervously sipping on our tightly clenched glass of rosé, mentally inching our way past the “this is incredibly awkward” moment.
We know we need to expand our network and that the right connections are the lifeblood of our businesses. We tend to do business with people we know, like and trust. But the “know” part – it’s the kicker – and it can be hard.
Well, that was awkward
“Networking has definitely been a challenge for me as I’m not that extroverted. However, as an entrepreneur, its undeniable that networking pays huge dividends,” explains Khuram Zaman, CEO of digital agency, Fifth Tribe.
He is not alone. Those dividends are often overshadowed by networking fears. In today’s networked economy it’s hard to confess – openly, honestly and authentically – “I hate networking.”
Why? Well, much of the networking advice out there (e.g. You should just hand out as many business cards as possible, etc.) is bad advice. It keeps real authentic connections from happening.
Expand your network with proven tips and tech
Relationships are not rocket science, but finding common ground can feel like it. For people who hate to network we often fight our own battle—to measure up, to stand up, and to be heard.
Thankfully, there are tips and tech to help us build those coveted business relationships everyone is always talking about.
1. Leverage technology to network with purpose
Technology has undoubtedly changed the networking landscape. Tech expert, writer and founder of TechSesh, Jessica Naziri affirms that technology is your friend if you want to keep networking fears at bay.
“It’s easier than ever to reach out to someone and get a response back, whether that’s for dating, business relationships or mentorship,” says Naziri. “New opportunities are available for those bold enough to grab them and send a message that is catchy enough.”
With networking, Wavework App does the heavy lifting for you. Wavework connects people at live events and leverages the collaborative power of community. Users can see all event attendees in real-time—and that’s just the beginning.
Wavework’s unique use of geofencing technology ensures your connections are venue-and event-specific—essentially by creating a virtual boundary around a real-world geographical area. Instead of waiting for an introduction, Wavework empowers you to seize opportunities and engage.
Simply open the app, check in, and presto! Whether at a sporting event, concert, gallery opening or other social event you’re already attending, Wavework puts actionable data at your fingertips, easing your networking anxiety and streamlining an intro to your next contact.
2. Get clarity on your networking challenges
Take a proactive approach to overcome networking challenges. Strengthening your network can admittedly be hard work – especially when we haven’t identified the root cause of our fears.
Are you afraid that you could be rejected? Do you assume others will judge you negatively (for being shy, weird, saying the wrong thing, etc.)? Maybe the risk of being singled out is too high for you to stomach? Or it could be as simple as this: you don’t want to annoy or inconvenience someone.
The truth is, the stories we tell ourselves impact our ability to develop deeper and fulfilling relationships with others. It’s about learning to think better so you can ultimately live (and do business) better. No matter what.
3. Share a ‘smart’ compliment
Learning how to compliment someone is a powerful social skill. “Compliments are in fact one of the finest tools for acquiring more social skills, because the returns are great and immediate. They escalate the atmosphere of positivity […] fostering the flow of conversation…”
Wavework is a useful tool when it comes to finding the right nugget of information about someone to spark that smart conversation. Wavework offers filtered searches in real-time. So, if you’re wondering which VC firms are in attendance, problem solved! This intelligent networking app lets you search by company, job title, career level or direct contact.
When you know more about the people you’re interacting with, a quick compliment on a new deal or customer win makes you an informed and empowered networker. Think about how you feel when someone compliments you. A simple and smart compliment can create a more meaningful discussion. The result: you become memorable.
4. Find a networking wingman (Psst. there’s an app for that)
You don’t have to network alone. We’re all pretty familiar with the notion that having a wingman can help when you’re trying to get a date – the science is undeniable. The same concept can be applied to networking. Are you vying for the attention of a VC in the room? Maybe you need an “in” to congratulate an industry peer on their recent press coverage.
The reality is, most entrepreneurs don’t have easy access to a networking wingman (i.e., a master networker), making tech the perfect match.
Wavework can essentially become your wingman, giving you the connection you need. Live event networking technology can also help you get past those awkward social scripts—becoming the ultimate conversation starter.
Vanessa Van Edwards, founder of Science of People – a human behavior research lab – dissects the art (and science) of sparkling conversation for a living. “When you abandon social scripts, you give yourself and your conversation partners the opportunity to get to know each other on a deeper, more meaningful level.”
Simply put, the right technology can change your networking life.
Find the connections you need to succeed
Attention spans are short these days. “The average attention span in 2013 was 9 seconds, one second less than the attention span of a goldfish,” according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. As you spend time wondering if they’ll reject you – the clock is ticking.
Technology is positioned to keep you ahead of the curve.
Wavework founder, Jessica Gaffney is no stranger to smart networking. “Technology is changing exponentially,” she explains. “In an increasingly mobile-friendly world, there is no delineation between work and play so why not make the most of your time and maximize the meaningful connections you can make in your everyday life?”
Taking a genuine interest in others, creating value and leveraging live event networking technology are key to business development opportunities and pipeline expansion with the right connections. You’ve got this!