There she is. The most confident business women you’ve ever seen.
She’s owning the room. Gliding from one person to the next with a wide smile and a look that says, “I’m open for business.”
She must have been born that way, right?
Probably not. A lot of us have to learn to be confident in business… yes, learn.
Whether you want to start your own business or simply need more confidence to land that promotion, you will need to make great connections with people. So here are some ways to gain confidence when it comes to networking.
1. Never forget: You’re the best!
Ever wonder why top athletes accomplish amazing results? Because they program their mind to focus on achieving their goals. They have a talent, and they truly believe they can succeed.
You, too, have amazing talents; you just have to believe in them. This belief will instil a type of confidence that you have never before experienced.
So consider your skills and talents. Think about how you know you are the most organized, the most knowledgeable on a certain topic, great with your budgets, excellent on deadlines… There’s no doubt you’re good at something.
Keep these in the forefront of your mind at all times, and believe in your abilities. This will help you connect more confidently when networking, no matter your situation.
2. Open your eyes and observe
Focus on observing and mimicking confident people. Watch those around you and take note on how they behave. Don’t stalk them or freak them out by staring, but notice their behaviour and attributes.
You’ll likely see that confident people walk tall, offer a welcoming look and smile a lot. These are simple attributes that you can mimic.
I’m not saying copy the most flamboyant peer in the office to a tee. That would be career suicide! But take note on how they use their confidence to project the extrovert in them.
3. Be comfortable in your own skin
No matter who you are, learn to feel comfortable with yourself.
In every situation, whether at the office, at speed or other networking events or even at the bar for after-work drinks, you stand tall, sister.
What you wear can have a big impact on how you feel. So don’t wear a low-cut top and over-the-knee boots to a business conference; leave that for the pub. If the dress code for your event is smart casual, don’t wear jeans; go for your professional look.
Dressing the part will help you stand out, but for the right reasons.
4. Look people in the eye
This is an important point often overlooked by introverts. I’ve been at meetings where experienced managers look at the floor. I understand it’s hard to be something you’re not, but start with small exercises, whether networking or in meetings.
Look people in the eye and give a welcoming smile when you walk into the room. When starting a conversation in a networking situation, put out your hand confidently, introduce yourself with your name and workplace, and do your best to make eye contact.
5. Communicate with clarity and warmth
So you’re really enthusiastic about making a connection with a particular person? If that’s the case, help them feel that enthusiasm.
The more you communicate with clarity and have warmth in your tone, the more your genuine interest will come across. You want them as a contact, right? They’re not psychic. Let them know and make an impact during your first meeting, because you might not get another chance.
These behaviours may not come naturally, I know. So practice. Practice your tone out loud in front of the mirror or with a good friend. Practice looking people in the eye, even when you’re buying your morning coffee. Practice your firm handshake, your smile, walking tall and standing tall on the underground or on the bus. Keep at it and you’re sure to see results.
Elaine Knowles writes at Working Sirens, a career advice blog for ambitious 18-to-34-year-olds.