Being in business for yourself requires a certain amount of confidence. In order to succeed in business, you need to, not only have an air of confidence and authority about what you do, you also need to have a quiet, yet determined faith and belief in yourself and your abilities too.

Networking is no different. You need to go into any networking event with that same air of confidence, as well as that quiet determination and belief in yourself.

But it isn’t always that simple, especially if you’re usually lacking in the confidence department!

So how can you boost your general business confidence AND improve your confidence at networking events?

Here are five ways you can boost your confidence and improve your networking too.

#1: Be clear on what you want

Both your business and networking events will run smoother if you’re clear on what you want from them. You need to go into them with a clear vision of your desired end result.

In business, that could mean x amount of clients or sales, whilst in a networking environment; it could mean connecting with x amount of people.

#2: Be optimistic and smile

This can be easier said than done, especially if you’re nervous or unsure of yourself, however smiling is known to immediately lift your mood – so smile!

Being optimistic will win you friends, too. Nobody likes to hang around with someone who’s always negative, so keep your business and networking conversations positive and helpful.

#3: Know who you are (and what you do)

Sounds obvious, I know. However, when it comes to meeting new people (whether in a work or networking environment), it’s easy to get tongue-tied and forget both!

The best way to get round this, is to have a set, short, well-rehearsed bio/elevator speech in mind. This is a quick and simple couple of lines that succinctly illustrates ‘who you are and what you do’. Knowing this off-by-heart, will ensure you sound confident and assured – and it works both in networking events and in business generally!

#4: Have conversation starters – and enders – in mind!

If you’re lacking in confidence, it can be awfully difficult to sum up the courage to go and speak to anyone – especially if you struggle to get a conversation started. So get round this be having a few conversation starters rehearsed and ready to go. ‘How did you get into your line of work?’ is a good starter, as is ‘Hi, you look like you have a handle on this event – do you have any tips for a newbie?’.

Also, make sure you rehearse how to politely end a conversation too. This will help you to a) ensure you mingle with everyone, b) ensure you don’t cling to one person, who may be easy to talk to but who could then become your ‘safety blanket’ and c) ensure you can get away from someone who wants to cling to you!

Here’s a good way to end a conversation: ‘It’s been great meeting you [name]. I must go and say hello to a few more people, so I hope you have a lovely evening.’ If you’d like to connect with them again: ‘It’s been a pleasure speaking with you [name]. I’d love to hear more about you and your business – could I get your contact info, so we can organise a follow-up?’

#5: Take a networking buddy with you

If you’re really nervous about networking, why not take a friend with you? It can help ease the stress, knowing you have a friendly face there, someone you can connect with, throughout the evening.

BTW, this also works in business too – why not get yourself a work or support buddy, to connect with on a regular basis and discuss your worries and successes?

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