Networking can be scary and intimidating but it can also open many doors. Although the thought of networking may cause hands to sweat, hearts to race, and a general feelings of nausea to arise, it is one of the greatest ways to make new business connections and get your brand out there. If you’re new to networking and still feel anxious about attending events, here are some great tips to help you feel prepared and confident.

  1. Start small – networking events can be scary at first, especially if the event is centered around networking. Start small by attending a smaller events that have a focus to it, perhaps a dinner or seminar where there is some opportunity to networking. This way, you have a bit of a breather in between to collect your thoughts and prepare for another round of schmoozing.
  1. Have a bank of questions – people tend to get nervous about the possibility of drawing a blank in a conversation or having an awkward pause when speaking to someone new. Eliminate that worry by having a few ice breaker questions in mind beforehand.
  1. Have a personal pitch ready – get to the core of your business with a 30 second elevator pitch. Practice at home, repeat your pitch in front of a mirror and you’ll be a pro in no time.
  1. Push past the fear of rejection – it can be intimidating to ask for something and get shut down. Just remember it’s not personal, and there will be others out there who genuinely want to help you.
  1. Try to get introductions to multiple people- don’t spend the whole evening with one person. If you’re speaking with someone who looks familiar with many others around them, ask them to introduce you to so-and-so, or suggest that you both meet the people next to you.
  1. Enter into groups of three or more – although you can start talking to a group of two, there is the chance that they are having a serious conversation that may not want to be interrupted. It’s always safest to try a bigger group first until you’ve gotten a feel for the conversations in pairs around you.

Even with all these tips, you’ll only get more comfortable the more you network, so practice, practice, practice! Just remember, there’s always someone else that is just as nervous as you are, so don’t sweat it, you’ve got this!