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Networking Confidence, how do you get it?

You know that guy. He walks into the room with a big smile, everyone knows who he is. Before he goes for food or drink, he walks around, talking and listening. He attends every available networking function, he knows everyone by name and he knows what’s happening in everyone’s life. He’s the great “mover and shaker” of your business community. We’re all jealous of him, you can’t deny it. But as we’re running to the bar at the back of the room, reaching for a cup of courage, he’s out building his business into an empire.
At the last networking function you attended, where were you? Were you in the middle of the room, working to create a name for yourself? Or were you going to one of the three B’s: the buffet, the bar or the bathroom?
If you’re like many business professionals, you struggle with confidence — and that’s really what this is all about. Mr. Webster defines confidence as “a feeling or consciousness of one’s powers or of reliance on one’s circumstances.” In layman’s terms, confidence is projecting a feeling of adequacy in public. Confidence is key when it comes to approaching people we’d like to meet and asking for things we deserve. Even though confidence may seem like something your older sister was born with — and that’s why she got all the guys — it can be obtained with a little assistance. Here are a couple very easy tactics to help you feel more confident in public.
Make the first move
When you’re the one to approach other people, you’ve taken the pressure off of them to find someone to talk to. If you’re uneasy about what to say, just concentrate on walking up and introducing yourself. You need to act as if it is a party and you are the host. Please don’t misunderstand me: It is a business function, but at one of our parties, aren’t we trying to make people more comfortable?
Use a ‘memory hook’
As you approach people and introduce yourself, follow up with a clever catchphrase to describe your business and what you do. For example, a Web designer might say, “Hi, I’m John Jones. I help you expose yourself,” instead of saying “I design Web sites.” If you say something that sticks out in the minds of your colleagues, you’ll be more likely to receive business from them. Plus it helps bring in the human factor, the thing we sometimes stuff underneath our three-piece suit.
Concentrate on the other guy
After you have introduced yourself and gave a quick explanation of what you do — the operative word here is “quick” — ask a few questions to get them talking. Here are some I use:
 What do you do?
 How long have you been doing it?
 What do you like most about it?
 What is a good referral for you?
Take notes on the back of their business card to help you remember.
Don’t forget to follow up
After the event, follow up with a short note. Handwritten is best. Make sure you don’t send any sales material. This isn’t about selling them; it is about building relationships. The business will come.
It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. When you appear confident, you have no professional boundaries. If you are confident, others will come to you because they are hoping that somehow it will rub off on them. Build strong relationships and listen to others. Believe me: Confidence will come… and so will business.

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