Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Community Building: Tips for Overcoming Networking Anxiety

Networking doesn't have to be a scary proposition.
When you come right down to it, it's really just a one-word way of saying,
"Get out of your studio and meet people of like minds."
etsyRAIN networking 
etsyRAIN Networking event - Seattle, WA
Top 10 ways to make a networking meeting work for you:
  1. Show up
  2. Participate
  3. Ask Questions
  4. Be a good listener
  5. Bring Business Cards
  6. Take Business Cards
  7. Make connections
  8. Introduce people to each other
  9. Practice Your Elevator Pitch
  10. Above All Have a Good Time!
Show up
"I keep meaning to make it to a Meetup! Maybe next time!"
How many times have you said this in the last year? Make "next time" THIS time and watch your network grow!

Showing up isn't nearly enough. You have to attempt to set your inner introvert aside for just a couple of hours so you can actively engage with your community.

Ask Questions
This is the best known secret for making meaningful connections with people. Ask them about their work. About their shop. Why they do what they do. How they started making their stuff. Basic questions are great! While you're at it, be sure you include ANYONE who is in earshot of your conversation!

Be a Good Listener
Everyone likes to know they're being heard. It's sometimes hard to keep focused in a group situation, but do your best and you'll be remembered!

Bring Business Cards
Part of the fun of networking is testing your memory after the event! Bring and exchange business cards with the people you connect with.

Take Business Cards
Have a tough time remembering things? Make notes right on their card - no shame in that...it shows people that you're paying attention! (side note: do YOUR business cards explain who you are and what you do *clearly*? Make it easy for your new connections and be descriptive on your card!)

Make Connections
Whoever you end up talking to, try to find some common ground between you. There is almost always something you can connect on. Make it a goal to try to meet at least one person that you'd be willing to have coffee with after the event!

Introduce People to Each Other
Make it a point to be sure the people you are talking to have been formally introduced, "Have you two met? No? This is Jane of Jane Smith Designs - she makes handbags out of interesting materials. This is Sally of Sally Jones Designs - she makes jewelry with beautiful beads from all over the world." (side note: Don't remember everyone's name? Just say so! Like this: "No? You two should meet [turning to one person] I'm sorry, I don't remember your name!" The rest takes care of itself...trust me. It's really okay!)

Practice Your Elevator Pitch
An "elevator pitch" is just a quick way to introduce what you do to new people. Just your name, company name, and a quick overview of what you make. Keep it focused and as short and clear as possible. It's really important to practice ahead of time so when you hear the question, "What do you do?" you are prepared with a quick intro to the awesomeness that is you! 

Above All, Have a Good Time!
Walking into a room of people you don't know can be very intimidating, but try to remember that most everyone is feeling exactly the same way! Meet every glance with a smile and before you know it, you'll be chatting it up with your new friend and making plans for coffee after the event is over! 

Note: This is an updated post based on my original quick-tip article at 
What are some of your tricks for overcoming networking anxiety? 
Please share them in the comments below!


  1. I'm no eexpert, but once u do something 4 the 1st time it bcomes easier after that...


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