Feeling comfortable introducing yourself to total strangers is one of the biggest obstacles to networking. How do you overcome it?
Acting Like a Host
In her book Skills for Success, Dr. Adele Scheele tells about a cocktail party where she met someone who was hesitant to introduce himself to total strangers. Dr. Scheele suggested that he “consider a different scenario for the evening. That is, consider himself the party’s host instead of its guest.” She asked him, if he were the host, wouldn’t he introduce himself to people he didn’t know and then introduce them to each other? Wouldn’t he watch for lulls in conversations, or bring new people over to an already-formed small group?
Scheele’s new acquaintance acknowledged the obvious difference between the active role of the host and the passive role of the guest. Scheele concluded that “there was nothing to stop this man from playing the role of host even though he wasn’t the actual host.”
Don’t Act, Be
Now I know that sounds easy… but, when it comes right down to it, actually acting like the host isn’t so simple for many people. Not all individuals are good at “acting” like something they are not. Therefore, I have one important thing to add to this advice: don’t “act” like the host… “be” the host.
Most of the business organizations you go to have a position that is responsible for meeting visitors. I know it sounds crazy telling someone who is uncomfortable meeting new people at a networking event to be the host. At first, it must sound a little like telling a boxer to “lean into a punch!”. But, there’s a big difference and it really works.
Most people’s fears relating to meeting new people at networking events come from not having a proper context to introduce themselves to others. Just as Scheele points out, when you are the host – you don’t feel uncomfortable introducing yourself to someone you don’t know who’s at your party. So the key, in feeling comfortable, is to establish the proper context.
Become a Gate Keeper
To establish the proper context, I recommend that you volunteer to be an Ambassador, or Visitor Host, at the networking groups you belong to. An Ambassador or Visitor Host is someone who greets all the visitors and introduces them to others. Over time, this type of position will give you an opportunity to meet many people, put them together with others, and become an accomplished “gate keeper.” Helping others connect, meet, and get want they need – will unquestionably help you build your business. Furthermore, it will do it in a way that helps others.
By using this technique, you’ll start to develop excellent networking skills and get great exposure to many business professionals in a short time.
A distinguishing characteristic of self-made millionaires, is that they network everywhere. Most importantly, they do it all the time – at business conferences, at the health club, on the golf course, or with the person sitting next to them on a plane. This fact alone should motivate you to place yourself in situations where you can meet new people and do so in a way that you feel comfortable.
It’s not called net-sit, or net-eat, it’s called net-work. If you want to become a better networker, try this technique out. You will be pleased with the results.
About the Co-Author: Dr. Ivan Misner is the Founder and Chairman of BNI, the world's largest business networking organization, which has more than 4,900 chapters in 37 countries. Dr. Misner is also the author of several books, including the most recent addition to the bestselling Masters Series—Masters of Sales (www.mastersbooks.com), and the New York Times bestseller TRUTH OR DELUSION? (www.truthordelusion.com); and he is the Senior Partner for the Referral Institute (www.referralinstitute.com), a referral training company with operations around the world.
About Our Show Advisor: Bertrand McHenry spent 22 years developing his skills in outside sales. Starting out in the cell phone business, then to Pitney Bowes, Dictaphone Division, and finally in Medical Diagnostic Equipment Sales. His expertise became finding, training, and developing dynamic and record setting sales teams. A number of years ago he was introduced to the concept of “Referral Marketing” as a strategy for growing his business. It worked and he was hooked! At a conference Bertrand was presented with the Referral Institute opportunity and “I was intrigued so I began researching the company and its curriculum. It is actually the only company teaching Referral Marketing as a strategy to business owners and entrepreneurs around the world…so it didn’t take me long.” These days Bertrand is doing what he loves and what he does best…teach and train! “There is a lot of misunderstanding around the words “networking” and “referral marketing”. People make a lot of assumptions about those two words, and most of those assumptions are wrong! I can tell you without a doubt that Referral Marketing is the most powerful form of marketing there is. If we structure a referral marketing strategy and follow through week after week and just use the V.C.P relationship model…we can actually predict our income 6, 9, even 12 months out!” Most recently he has been quoted on yahoofinance.com, maimiherald.com, morningstar.com and USA Today featured him in an article on today’s economy calling him a “Trendsetter in the New Economy!” He is also a contributing author on Brian Tracy’s newest book titled “The Only Business Book You’ll Ever Need to Buy” due out in February 2012 Bertrand also hosted a radio show “Business Builders Radio” on CBS radio, Talk 650 AM. The radio show was dedicated to teaching the concepts of referral marketing and helping as many business owners as possible. Bertrand is fond of saying: “I love to teach business owners to Work Less, Play More, Make More Money, and Create Referrals for Life!”