15 Nov 2021

Networking With Confidence: 5 Top Tips

Modern Woman

RE-THINK CONFIDENCE

Let’s stop defining confidence in male terms. Definitions of confidence are often expressed in alpha male terms so sometimes we believe that strutting about with lots of bravado and a loud voice is what it’s all about. It isn’t. And that stereotype imprisons men too.

Real confidence comes from being comfortable in your skin: knowing who you are and what you offer.  It’s not about ego; it’s about believing in yourself and your business and recognising that what you offer benefits your customers.

Networking then becomes about focussing on the people you’re talking to and believing you can genuinely be of use to them.  That knowledge takes the edge off any nerves you may be feeling because you’re acting for the benefit of others.  That leads us on to the second tip:

KNOW WHO YOU ARE

Before you can bring something of value to other people, you need to know who you are. What are your core values? What has led you to create this product or service? What are you aiming for?  Digging deep and having a good look at these questions can be life-changing because only once you’ve discovered who you are can you begin to feel comfortable with yourself - and genuinely confident. Self-belief is vital if you want to network and market your business with impact.

So it’s useful to remember how you started or got into your business - because it attracted you, because it was a good fit, because it excited you? So think of that when promoting yourself.  What do you value and how does that shine through in the service or product you’re offering?

Try keeping a praise file – any good feedback you get, whether oral or written, keep a note of it to remind yourself of your strengths. Accentuate the positive and develop more faith in what you do.

MANAGE IMPOSTER SYNDROME

The enemy of comfortable confidence is that nagging feeling of being a fraud, not good enough. Most people have imposter syndrome at some point in their lives – a new school, a new job, a new promotion. And many people who are held back by imposter syndrome don’t know that’s what they’re experiencing. It’s not simply a matter of low self-esteem. It is fundamentally a disconnect between how others see you and how you see yourself. Characteristics of the syndrome are:

  • a feeling that other people have got it wrong – they have an inflated idea of your talents

  • a fear that your true lack of abilities will be rumbled

  • a tendency to attribute success solely to external factors, such as luck

Sometimes imposter syndrome can look like its opposite - over-confidence - but over-confidence isn’t real confidence, it’s just insecurity veiled in bravado, like that outdated alpha male stereotype. Other manifestations that could get in the way of effective networking are:

  • being unwilling to speak out unless you’re 100% sure it’ll sound perfect

  • not celebrating success because it feels like bragging

  • being dismissive of your own expertise: ‘anyone could do it’

  • fear of voicing your own thoughts while pretending to agree with others – people-pleasing

  • being risk-averse – not putting yourself forward (for opportunities or promotions)

  • constantly comparing yourself with others

Fundamentally, imposter syndrome is a fear of failure.  The best steps towards overcoming it are to be aware of what it is, to take seriously what others think of you and to practise voicing opinions and speaking from the heart.

RESILIENCE

It’s true that dealing with rejection is tough but remind yourself that mistakes are inevitable.  It’s how you react to failure that counts.  Does every failure crush you? Or does failure help you work out what you need to strengthen and develop?

For instance, thinking of imposter syndrome again, do you attribute personal and professional setbacks solely to your own inadequacy or are you able to identify specific contributing factors? Do you demand a perfect streak or are you able to accept that life is a mix of losses and wins?

Learning to be okay with making mistakes, big or small, is a vital skill - one tied not only to resilience but also to future success.  You can’t ignore the frustrations that come with a setback but you can accept the emotions, examine what went wrong and see how you can improve things in future. Be kind to yourself.

CREATE IMPACT

The way to have impact when networking is to construct a short, sharp pitch about yourself and your business. Use simple, user-friendly language avoiding jargon and cutting out the sub-clauses.  Try creating a pitch of 30 seconds (90 words) and formulate it in terms of one key message, and three subsequent supporting messages.

The first step is to be clear about your story. Who are you? What do you do? What’s your USP?

Then when you’re meeting someone new, the basics they need to know about you are:

  • What you offer? How could you solve a problem or save them money?

  • Tell them about who your existing customers/clients are – (in other words, a lot of people trust you already)

  • Why choose you? Put yourself in their shoes: how will choosing you benefit them? How will they be better off if they use you?

In summary, you will feel confident if you believe in yourself and focus on what you have to offer others.


This article is brought to you by Modern Woman

Modern Woman is a female-led business network and media brand to empower and enrich mid-career to senior level professionals in their careers through informative content, a high achieving exclusive network and inspirational virtual and in-person events.

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