by BlogPaws' Co-founder, Yvonne DiVita
Do you dread networking events? Are you too (a) shy or (b) embarrassed to talk yourself up at networking events? Does the thought of walking into a room full of strangers give you palpitations? If th at's the case, you're not alone.
Most of us have some trepidation about approaching strangers at networking events - knowing we'll have to introduce ourselves and answer that pointed question, "So, what do you do?"
While we all want to rave about our pet business, or or writing, or our blog, we also don't want to 'brag' the ear off of our new contacts. We're very much like a shy puppy just being introduced to the dog park.
So, what do you do? How do you handle it?
Here's how I do it - this advice comes from my own experience and from help I've received from professionals who teach networking skills.
First, meet people you know will be at the event you're attending, online. Chances are, if it's a business event, there is a LinkedIn group for it, or many of the people will be on LinkedIn. If you know a colleague or friend who is attending, ask for introductions to others, so you can become familiar with them via LinkedIn or one of the other social networks designed for business.
Next, be prepared. Understand the theme or purpose of the event and do some background research into it. Is it a re-occuring event that you are just learning about? That opens up opportunity to connect with the Board and ask questions, online and offline. Is it a brand new event? This is a great way to offer your help and get in on the ground floor. Share your expertise - offer to be a volunteer for the first year. The group will likely be thrilled at your offer.
Getting to know more about the event and the kinds of people who attend, allows you to create talking points. When you arrive at the event, you can gently insert yourself into a group of people and ask questions, when a chance arises. Remember: asking other people about themselves or their business is a sure way to break the ice.
Next, don't rush in with too much enthusiasm! Enthusiasm is great but if you overdo it because your'e nervous or scared, people will pull away. Be calm and thoughtful. Do more listening than speaking, until the group indicates they're ready for you to join the conversation.
Of course, BlogPaws is a different story. We're enthusiastic, boisterous, loud, funny, happy go lucky and more. We bring pets, which are natural ice-breakers. We enfold everyone into great big hugs. We want to hear all about your blog and your pets. We are happy to share advice and information and we welcome your expertise and insight, also.
We do this at our event (this year's is in Tysons Corner, VA in August) and we do it online. Visit our community and see for yourself!
If networking is a scary thing for you - because you're still new to being an entrepreneur or because you're more comfortable on your blog than in person - join us at BlogPaws and discover how easy it is to network with pet people.