“3 Steps to overcoming Shyness and Shine at networking events”

lady in orange top on yellow background peeping out from behind her hands

 “3 Steps to overcoming Shyness and Shine at
networking events”

Do you get jealous when you see others confidently showing up and engaging at networking?

Is your shyness holding you back from what you know you deserve?

Sharon Louca stood against a wallI hear you. But guess what, I have been where you are, and I have overcome a lot of my shyness and built an extensive network of contacts that consistently refer business to me and have supported me on my business journey.

And you can too. I admit I am still shy in some situations, and I will always be an introvert. What I did have was a determination to succeed. I made the decision I wanted to run my own business and did not want to fail and be forced back into working for someone else.

If my journey can help others to stop holding back and step out of their comfort zone then I am very willing to share this with you.

I have learnt so much over the last few years, my reservations and speculations about what others might be saying behind my back it was all in my own head!!

My inner demons were working against me and filling me with fear

People want to help and support you, and I had so much help in those early days that made such a difference to me. I would not be where I am without the support I received.

I should point out that not only did I overcome my shyness I have actually been hosting my own networking events since 2014. I started a face-to-face group when I opened my business centre and had a meeting room to host it in.

Why did I choose to work exclusively with women in business? My lack of confidence meant that I didn’t feel comfortable in a male environment. Due to this, it made sense to play to my strengths and support fellow female entrepreneurs.

What cemented my decision to create a women only network was the difference in atmosphere and positivity I felt in a room full of women all striving hard to fulfil their business dreams and goals.

Women were more open and more inclined to ask for help when amongst other women. They were more comfortable sharing their worries and concerns and asking for help. I don’t think they would have done that in a mixed group.

I created a supportive network of women who not only built strong business relationships but also found friendships.

When Covid hit in 2020 my members asked if I would do an online call in the first week of lockdown March 2020. I set up an online meeting and all our members attended.

We agreed to meet again the following week and continued weekly until June 2020.

My members started inviting others and the numbers grew. Before we knew it, we had attracted both a national and international audience.

I had come a long way from that shy girl at networking who was so frightened you could hear the nerves in my voice.

I was so passionate about supporting others to grow and gain confidence that in July 2020 I launched Women’s Business Networking Ltd – a national online support network for female business owners.

Since then, we have created a fabulous community of like-minded women building relationships, learning, and growing together.

lady standing at the front of a room talkingI love what I do and show up for my group consistently day in day out hosting online meetings, running challenges, Facebook Lives and recording videos.

All of this was once so far out of my comfort zone. Before I started my own business, I would never have believed I could do any of these things – but I have embraced it all and I absolutely love it.

What can you do to help overcome your shyness and have more success from networking?
  1. Do your research and find your tribe – Research groups in your area. Since covid, there are now so many online networking opportunities and they are a great starting point for us shy ones as we do not have to meet people face to face, we do not have to walk into a room full of strangers and try and interact. In a lot of online networks, you don’t even have to do a pitch – they may just put you in a zoom room to chat with 2 or 3 others.

If you feel you want to do face-to-face networking think about where you would feel most comfortable. Would it be an all women group, or would you prefer mixed?  Find groups that inspire you, that make you feel welcome, and that offer the meeting style most suited to you.

All groups allow you to visit before you join and, in some groups, you can drop in and out with no commitment. Visit lots before you decide – you will know quite quickly where you feel you belong.

2. Be prepared and have a plan – one thing I struggle with is being put on the spot. I need to know what is expected of me so I can be prepared. If I have to pitch, I like to prepare my pitch to suit the audience. Most meetings allow you 60 seconds, but some will give you longer.

Have a plan – what do you want to achieve at each meeting? Is it to get five new connections/promote an event or workshop for example. Knowing your end goal helps you feel more confident and will make the experience more positive.

  1. Be sure to follow up – connect with people you have met at the meeting. Follow them on social media or add them to your email list. If they have given you their card or contact details, they are happy for you to contact them.

Stay connected but do not spam them and never try to sell to them. The follow up is all about getting to know each other better. Perhaps arrange a 1-1 meeting either face to face or online. Don’t restrict your conversation to work related topics. Get to know the person behind the brand, their hobbies, family, pets, etc. It is surprising how shared interests outside of work can cement relationships. Ask how you may be able to help each other.

 Networking is a great platform to create opportunities and collaborations.

Good luck as you get out there. Try not to get into your own head. Please don’t compare yourself to others we are all on different paths and different journeys.

If I can build multiple businesses from scratch with all referrals coming from people, I have met from networking then so can you.

I would love to hear your stories. How did you find your voice and confidence? What has been your experience networking

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