It’s no big secret that 99% of us have days where we wake up ready to show the world what we’re made of and end up shaking in our proverbial boots the moment we find ourselves conversing with a new client or peer. It’s just human nature to be a little anxious about meeting new people (and experiencing new things, for that matter).
As an entrepreneur, you should constantly be putting yourself out there. You are essentially holding out an olive branch and hoping those awesome potential clients or fabulous new networking connections want to grab on to it and start a relationship with you.
So why is it so scary to make new connections, even when you do it every day?
Because we know, relationships take work. And we don’t want to appear to be a waste of anyone’s time (and we don’t want to waste our own), so we’re perpetually apprehensive about starting new relationships.
Think about that. Imagine how it must seem to the person on the other end of that branch. The experience of meeting someone passionate and confident is very different than meeting someone who’s passionate, but nervous. Your nervousness could be costing you money. In fact, I’m sure it is. You’ve already missed opportunities and connections that could have been very personally fulfilling and lucrative because you’re not comfortable in your own skin.
What are you going to do about that?
You’re going to get over it; that’s what!
To Build Better Professional Connections You’ve Got to Be Prepared
Just like a good boy scout, you should always be prepared. But in this case, I’m talking specifically about being ready to talk to new people about your work. That doesn’t mean you need to be ready to sell your services the first time you meet someone (though if you are, awesome). What it means is you need to have a polished explanation of who you are and what you do. Yes – I am referring to your elevator pitch, people!
By having your who, what, and why ready, you can focus on letting the conversation flow naturally, without worrying about how to introduce yourself and conveying why you’re a good person to know.
Don’t Force It
The key to feeling comfortable is to feel relaxed. And what’s the opposite of being relaxed? Trying to force yourself to be perfect, talk or act a certain way, or get a specific response.
Let all that go.
Let the expectations go.
As long as you’ve got a good grasp on how to explain what you do, you’re going to be just fine. People are either going to like you or not. You can; of course, practice industry-specific lingo or update yourself on current events for added conversation, but above all – be yourself.
You are who you are. It sounds so simple, but we make it way more complicated than that and expect to have a hundred different versions of ourselves so we can pick the best one for each unique situation. Just stop that.
The less pretending you do, the better.
You’ll connect with like-minded people in a real and meaningful way the second you put away the persona and let your true colors show. It’s almost like a catch-22 because the more comfortable you are, the easier it is to be genuine; but the more genuine you are, the more comfortable you’ll become. You don’t have to let your guard down all the time, but when you feel like you can, you definitely should. And if you never feel like you can, then start by trying it in a safe and neutral place where you have no expectations of success or failure. Try it at the grocery store, or during a workshop. The more you try, the easier it gets.