Building Confidence for Small Business Owners: How to Overcome Networking Fears

9 Oct 2023

Networking. Just the word can send shivers down the spine of many small business owners. But fear not, dear entrepreneurs! Networking doesn’t have to be a nerve-wracking endeavour that you’d rather avoid. In fact, it can become a powerful tool to propel your business forward. So, let’s shed those fears and dive headfirst into the world of networking, armed with confidence and a winning attitude.

Embrace Your Inner Social Butterfly

Guess what? Networking is a skill, not a talent. And like any skill, it can be learned and improved upon. So, unleash your inner social butterfly, even if it’s currently cocooned!

I’ve been where you are. You want to get amongst other small business owners to connect, brainstorm, delve deep into the ups and downs of #SmallBizLife, have support and have a laugh. And then it comes time to attend said networking event and suddenly, you’re thinking up every excuse to bail. If you know me now, you’d wonder how I ever had an issue having a lil’ chit chat with anyone. It’s been a journey, that’s for sure. But stick with me and I’ll share with you how I embrace being an introverted-extrovert, and my 8 tips for networking glory.

Tip #1: Practice Makes Perfect

Don’t wait for that big networking event to test your social skills. Practice with friends! The more you engage in conversations, the more confident you’ll become. Ask them if they’ll do a role play with you – introduce yourself and ask 3 questions to engage their attention. Make it about them, not you.

Tip #2: Research and Preparation are Your Secret Weapons

Feeling confident starts with being well-prepared. Before heading to any networking event, do your homework. Who will be there? What topics might come up in conversation? Knowing your audience gives you a significant advantage.

Tip #3: Your 30-Second Superpower meets Storytelling Magic

Imagine you’re in an elevator with a potential business contact, and you have only 30 seconds to impress them. That’s your elevator pitch! Craft a concise, compelling summary of your business and its unique value proposition. Not sure what your elevator pitch is? Imagine I’m standing in front of you and I say to you – “tell me what you do, without telling me what you do” – your answer, my friend, is your elevator pitch. That’s the secret sauce to crafting a memorable, impactful pitch that’ll have you sweet-talkin’ your way amongst small business owners at the next networking event you attend!

Tip #4: Active Listening and Open-Ended Questions

Networking isn’t just about talking; it’s about listening, too. Be genuinely interested in what others have to say. Not only will this help you form deeper connections, but it also takes the pressure off you to always have something to say, and instead of asking yes/no questions, ask open-ended ones that encourage a more extended conversation. This shows your genuine interest and keeps the conversation flowing.

Tip #5: The Law of Reciprocity

When you help others, they’re more likely to help you in return. It’s a simple law that can work wonders in networking. Building meaningful relationships involves reciprocity. Don’t approach networking with a “what’s in it for me” mindset. Be generous with your time, knowledge, and resources.

Tip #6: The Follow-Up

Networking doesn’t end when the event is over. The follow-up is where you solidify connections and turn them into fruitful relationships. Send personalised follow-up messages, referencing something specific from your conversations with the business owners you resonated with.

Tip #7: For the Introverted-Extroverts

It’s me, hi. Yep, I’m an introverted-extrovert. Put me in a room full of inspiring business owners and I’ll chat all day long. But, one thing I know is that I will *immediately* need some downtime to recharge after small business networking events. After any event, for that matter. I know that introverts often feel the most anxious about networking, but if that’s you, I also know you possess unique strengths, such as listening skills and thoughtfulness. Use these strengths to your advantage – perhaps come armed with a couple of questions in mind to break the ice.

Tip #8: Celebrate Small Wins

Lastly, celebrate your victories, no matter how small they may seem. Every successful interaction, every new contact made, and every bit of growth in your networking skills is a reason to pat yourself on the back. Remember, practice makes perfect, and your next networking event will be even better than the last!

Networking doesn’t have to be a dreaded activity for small business owners. With the right mindset, preparation, and practice, you can overcome your fears and build the confidence needed to make valuable connections. Remember, even the most outgoing networkers were once beginners (like me!). So, take the plunge, and let networking become your secret weapon for business success.

Ready to start putting your skills into practice? I’d love to host you at a Social Spark event! If you’re in Sydney [Australia], check out our upcoming events and save yourself a seat!

If you’re *not* in Sydney [Australia], click here to get on the VINs [Very Important Networkers] List to stay up-to-date on all things Social Spark Events – we may even come to a city near you!

 

Yours in sparks and stories,
Bianca ✨
Chief gifter & curator of rad networking events

Meet the brains behind this epic networking event, co-founder and owner of Glow & Gifts… Bianca.

You’ll find me planning the next event at a cafe knocking back an almond piccolo, with 1 sugar ☕️

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