Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Voices in our heads

When you walk into a room full of strangers, do you ever start off having ‘solo’ conversations which go something like this?

• “I don’t know enough about xxxx.”
• “How am I going to break the ice,’ because I don’t know anyone, do I?”
• “ I’m so nervous that I’m bound to forget the name of the host, not to mention other peoples’ names when I first meet them”
• "I’ve no right to be in front of all those people; I’m too junior to represent the firm.”
• “Nobody’s going to talk to me.”
• “What if I’m asked something and I don’t know the answer?”
• “• “No doubt I’ll do something stupid like tripping up or knocking my glass of wine over fellow guests.”
• “People just aren’t going to take me seriously.”
• “People may laugh at me, not openly and when I feel that, what do I do?”

The majority of people have this conversation simply because we all have two key fears in our lives; fear of rejection and the fear of failure. Fear is a made-up word – it’s really an acronym F.E.A.R. It represents the phrase ‘false expectations appearing real’. These fears do represent false expectations as most people who attend business events are friendly, personable and welcoming. When have you been rejected at a business event? After all every one is there to spot opportunities, build or reinforce relationships. Yes, there will be a tiny proportion of rude people; those who decide you’re not important enough and start looking around the room for ‘more significant people than you.’ Don’t let this small minority get to you. They’re not worth giving a second thought to. You don’t want to be building relationships with these rude ignorant people anyway, so excuse yourself and go and find the ‘nice’ people who deserve your company.

When you walk into the room it’s time for a rethink.

Change the script

• “Yes I am a little nervous, but I guess so are most other people.”
• “I’m going to be friendly, courteous and polite; that way people will like me quickly.”
• “I’m going to smile, give good eye contact, shake hands and aim to remember people’s names. This will help me create a good first impression.”
• “If I pretend to act like a host, my confidence is going to build. For example, I’m going to talk to people who I see standing on their own and introduce them to others when it’s time to move on.”
• “It’s a business event so I suppose everyone is here to meet new contacts.”
• “I’m going to spend more time being interested by asking questions rather than talking too much about myself.”
• “I’m going to positively look for potential opportunities and follow them up.”
• “If at the end of the day all else fails, I’m just going to have to fake it ‘til I make it!”

But why should you fail? Fail at what exactly? It’s not an examination or you are the defendant in a trial being judged. It’s just a group of people, most of whom will be polite, friendly and welcoming. Focus on them and enjoy your networking.

For more free and useful networking tips and help on 'working the room', visit www.kintish.co.uk

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