Have you ever been at a networking function talking to someone when during the conversation you felt very self-conscious trying to say the right thing? Were you afraid that maybe if you said the wrong thing the person might not find you likeable, and therefore not want to do business with you? If you have, I am about to tell you why you should not worry about it. Like the obnoxious song "Don't Worry - Be Happy" from years ago, I want to share with you the reason why being careful about what we say works against us in the networking environment.
Our goal in business networking should be to establish new relationships and through the process of follow-up develop them over time. As with any relationship, being honest plays a very important role in that development.
When we meet someone for the first time, we want to make a good impression. Often we put on our "party face" so that we do. This can often cause us problems that we do not expect. One problem is that when we try to appear to be something that we really do not feel inside of us, we often have a fear that we are going to be "discovered". This fear causes us to feel uncomfortable about the situation and though we may be smiling, we are really cringing inside.
Most people worry that if they just be who they are, that no one can accept them. I argue that if we do not just be ourselves, sooner or later who we really are will slip out and then we will have to deal with the consequences of being discovered. This then leads to a feeling of distrust between people.
Have you ever been in a relationship with a person of the opposite sex where you did not tell them something important early on and later had to reveal it or even worse it was revealed by accident? It leads for difficult times after that and a lot of shuffling and apologizing.
In my opinion, it is better to risk being who I am up front. To let people know exactly how I feel. People, for the most part, have a forgiving nature. They actually want to forgive. If you make a mistake and say something that can be potentially embarrassing, you can always apologize for it and be forgiven. But if you say something that is not necessarily true and are discovered later, your credibility may be permanently damaged.
If you go into a networking environment prepared to be relaxed and genuine, you will find that it is a lot more fun to be there. If you have a plan of action to really get to know people, you will be much more productive in a shorter amount of time. People will feel comfortable talking to you and you to them. In an environment of truth, more people will want to do business with you and to be around you.
Authentic enthusiasm is contagious. You will always appear to be more attractive when you are excited about what you are doing. When you are not worried about making mistakes, you will appear to be happier. Being happy about the situation will help you to smile more, and the smiling face is a natural human attractor.
So next time you attend a networking function, just be yourself. Your results will improve and you will feel better when you leave to go home. Over time, the difference will be measurable in more ways than just your income. You will find that you have more friends than you had ever imagined possible. When it comes time for the referral, your friend will remember you because friends really do refer friends.