I have a lot of excuses: I'm tired, I'm busy, I've got another networking event the following night....
Bottom line: I don't like it, but it's a necessary part of building a business. So here are two new tips for you that are helpful if you are not a comfortable networker.
1. Go early.
Walking into a roomful of strangers is much easier when there are only a few strangers. It's easier to introduce yourself to the host or find someone to talk to, because there aren't huge groups already established and in deep conversation.
Imagine the different vantage point between you walking into a crowded room, and someone else walking into a room after you're already there. When you walk into the crowded room, you have to figure out who's there, who you know, who you want to meet. When you're already in the room, you get to see the newcomers as they arrive. It's a much better position to be in.
2. Go with a friend, but don't stick together.
I got this tip at a recent workshop with Brandy and Vinca, and honestly, I had never thought of it before.
I had thought of attending a networking even with a friend, of course. But the problem with that is the tendency to stay together the whole time, if you're shy, which reduces your chances of meeting people.
Going with a friend gives you that added boost of knowing someone in the room, but it also doubles your opportunity to meet people. Go with a friend, then split up. As you each meet people, connect the new person with your friend. We all know it's easier to meet someone when you're introduced, rather than having to approach them on your own.
This way, you still have to do some of the uncomfortable work of introducing yourself to strangers, but you've always got your friend there to introduce you to someone new, or for you to introduce your new contacts to. (That sentence is a little convoluted, but I think you know what I mean.
In-person networking is a critical part of growing a business. You want to avoid it, but you shouldn't. Think of all the people you could be meeting face-to-face, right in your own town. People you can serve, people who can serve you. The more strategies you have in place for making networking more comfortable, the more likely you'll go out and do it.
Here are some previous networking posts to help you along:
My three rules of networking
What not to do when networking
Five favorite networking tips
Five more tips for successful networking
Networking: Exit a conversation