Some people are scared of the networking process. If you are naturally shy and the idea of going to a business function, shaking hands with strangers and making small talk makes you quiver, don’t despair. You don’t have to go to an actual business event to network. There are opportunities to meet new people in everyday situations. The following are some tips to help you network, even if you are shy.
Friends and Family
Many people hesitate to go to their friends and family when they need help with their business. They don’t want them to think they are unsuccessful or obligated to help. Chances are, your friends and family would love to help. Ask your friends and family to spread the word about your business and the services you offer. Let them know you are not expecting them to buy anything from you; just put in a good word about your business to others.
You may talk to you neighbors casually from time to time. If you have not told them about your business before, you may want to bring it up the next time you talk to them. They may know someone who is looking for your services.
People You Know Because of Your Children
If you have children, you have boundless networking opportunities. If you have an infant, you may want to consider joining an exercise group for new mothers. If your child is a bit older, you probably find yourself at the park several times a week. And if your child is in school, you are surrounded by other parents on a daily basis.
Introduce yourself to the other parents. You can make small talk about the weather, a store that is having a sale on children’s clothing, or anything else. Eventually, the conversation will turn to what you do for a living. Briefly explain what you do; but try not to turn the conversation into a commercial about your business. The next time these parents need someone who offers the type of services you offer, they will think of you.
Volunteering will make you feel good, and it can also help grow your business. You will be meeting lots of people; again, the conversations you have with these people may bring up the topic of what you do for a living. The more people that know about your business, the more referrals you can receive.
On the other hand, the organization may recommend you to other organizations and groups who are willing to pay for your services.
While it may seem unnatural at first to bring up your business in these types of conversations, it will become easier. You can always ask the other person what they do first. If you already know what they do, ask how their business is doing. This will lead them to ask you the same type of questions.
Julianne Alvarez-Wish is a military wife, mother, homeschooling mom, business owner, professional writer, blogger and legislative advocate. She is the Colorado State Leader for the National Association for Moms in Business and the owner of The Wish Place. She is the Colorado Springs Stay-at-Home Mom Examiner for Examiner.com. She also blogs at A Wishful Thought. Her passion, purpose and goal is to help parents work from home so they can be home with their children.