Networking! How many times do you hear experts proclaim the amazing benefits of networking? Want to rapidly expand your business horizons…network. Want to jump into a new and exciting opportunity…network. Looking to build a group of trusted advisors and professional friends…network. In a general sense, it’s great advice! Just network.
We are heavily people-focused as real estate professionals. Regardless of where you are in the real estate world, you likely reach out to a network on a daily basis to conduct your business.
But how do you get started? How do you meet people when you don’t know a single person, at say, a networking event?
Problem: You walk into a networking event and everyone is chatting away in groups of three to five people with no intentions of opening up or letting go of their conversations. You’re there to meet people, yet you don’t have an “in” with anyone in the room. It can be a truly awkward moment that you wish you could have avoided. But you can’t because everyone is already locked into conversation and you can’t walk up to a friend or colleague. What next?!
Solution: Give this a try. Own the fact that you don’t know anyone and confidently approach a group and say “Hey all, I’m new here and am looking to meet interesting people. Do you mind if I join you?”
You’d be amazed at how receptive people are to opening up and including you in their conversation. But the trick is you must make the first move.
Quick example: I was recently invited to a local networking event and was very excited because of the opportunity to meet some truly interesting and engaging people. The problem: I didn’t know a single person at the event and had no clue how it’d go (scratch that, I knew one person, but he left very early on). I was on my own and really didn’t want to be the fly on the wall.
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So I basically had two choices. I could:
- A) stick to the wall and look at the groups of people wishing I knew someone (anyone) to strike up a conversation with or
- B) get over the fact that I didn’t know anyone and make a genuine effort to put myself out there.
I choose the latter, and the results were fantastic. I made the awkward first move of introducing myself and admitting that I knew no one; but everyone I met was equally interested in meeting me and hearing my story. Business cards were exchanged, jokes were had, drinks (surprisingly strong ones) were drank, and I had a great time.
One thing to keep in mind: Have your 30-second story down. The one question people will most commonly ask: What do you do? Once your story is down, you’re set. Let the rest happen and have a great time. It’s much easier than it appears once you make the all-important first step of putting yourself out there.