Networking is scary. Period. I don’t care how often you do it or how long you’ve been doing it. For majority of us, it can just be scary. Yes, I’m including myself. Believe it or not, networking in a new crowd is very nerve-racking for me. I have been known to find every excuse in the books to avoid a new networking function. Shame on me! Think of the opportunities I missed.
How to avoid this? Today’s Tip; Buddy Up
That’s right, take a friend, colleague, co-worker or even better…take someone you don’t even know! (I’ll explain that more later)
Buddy #1, Your Friend
Its really that easy. Find a networking buddy and tackle new events together. They don’t have to be in the same industry as you, or from your same office, just someone who should be out doing the same type of networking as you do. This also helps with accountability. Its hard to bail on an event when you know someone is meeting you there. Make sure you don’t isolate yourselves though, its usually best, once you’re comfortable to part ways and meet back up at the end.
Buddy #2, Chamber Ambassadors
These people LOVE to network and love to help you network. So when you go to an event, find an ambassador right away and buddy up with them. I promise they won’t mind, and they usually know everyone in the room!
Buddy #3, Someone You Don’t Even Know
This one does take a little groundwork ahead of time, but works great. Find out who’s registered to go to the event, or find out who is a member and most likely going to the event. Its best if it is someone you could be a referral partner with. Reach out to them and mention that you’ve been meaning to connect with them and ask if they will join you at the next event. OR if you dare . . . Find a connection on LinkedIN that you really need to connect with and invite them to attend with you. You’ll be showing them that you are a motivated, involved and connected person.
Networking Buddies are great also because if you do it right, they will introduce you to folks they know and vice versa. Just don’t forget to spread your wings a little and sit, stand, gather with people you don’t know.
My last word of wisdom on buddies: drive separate. If you are making a great new connection and your buddy has to leave, you don’t want to have to cut that convo short. Especially at evening events. I often find myself nervous to attend but one of the last to leave because of all the great new connections I’m making.
So Buddy Up, and Show Up. Happy Networking!