Let’s be honest with each other. No matter how much we know we need to network in order to grow our business, not many of us really look forward to it.You can probably think of ten good reasons why you don’t want to go, but the truth is you NEED to be a part of the local networking scene. Each connection can lead you to a personal and professional growth that you hadn’t even anticipated.

Now does this mean that networking won’t still feel slightly overwhelming?  No, of course not; but there are a few things you can do to make it simpler and ease your pre-networking jitters.

1.      Research and Ask Around

Don’t be afraid to ask your friends and colleagues about their favorite networking groups, or maybe even suggest going together as a group to help ease you into the experience.  The internet is also a great research tool to help you find just the right networking group so that your service or skill matches well with the combination of services and skills that a specific group already offers.

2.      Don’t Freak Out

Don’t put so much pressure on yourself when you attend a networking event.  Don’t go in with a hard sell mentality!  This is a social gathering, so be sociable.   Put on a great smile and simply be your amazingly confident, engaging, and knowledgeable self and you will be surprised at the great contacts you will make.

3.      Don’t Rush Around Just to Collect Cards

This is not a speed dating event so don’t treat it as such.  Take your time and focus on the individual you’re speaking with to find out if they have something to offer you and if you have something to offer them.  Don’t be afraid not to take their card; you won’t need the services of everyone there at that moment, just like everyone there won’t need your services at that moment.  The key is to make a great impression that will make them think of you even if they didn’t get a business card.

4.      Be Open to New Ideas

Meeting new individuals while networking can be a bit of a nail-biter, but if you think outside the box it might not have to be.  When you meet someone new ask questions about upcoming events, engagements or marketing plans they have and find out how you might be able to get involved with them.  You never know – the two of you might reap a greater benefit by marketing together rather than apart.