We hear this a lot and we want to share with you some tips, useful information and ideas so you love The Business Womans Network too.
- Our Founder Mandie Holgate used to be so scared of networking if she could get herself in the room of “grey suits” she needed every great song on in the car, her best heels and to really work on her own mindset to get in the door before she even could work out what she was supposed to say when networking! The 60 seconds was a whole new level of fear that would see Mandie pretending she had an “urgent call from school, so sorry, miss me out” So when we say we know networking fears, we really mean it! And that is why we work hard to ensure you enjoy every second at the BWN, a popular statement we hear at our events is “I wasn’t going to attend today but I’m so glad that I did!”
- That is why at the BWN we have a policy that all coordinators are actively taught “Watch the door!” All our coordinators have a clipboard and they hang out at the door ready with a smile. So, they can greet you and share with you how the morning will run.
- When they greet you, they will say something like “Lovely to see you today, did you book online? No worries I can send you an invoice, could I get your business card or your email address? If you’d like to make yourself at home, you can put your coat on any chair, tea and coffee are there and the Business Promo Table is there feel free to add your business literature just ensure you take it when you go. We sit down at 10.30 and I will guide you through the morning”.
- We know a big source of fear and anxiety is around the dreaded 60 seconds. Why is it everyone else looks at home and is brilliant and you feel like a 4-year-old bumbling over your words! Fear not, Mandie had a phobia of public speaking and knows how to fix it. Mandie coaches businesswomen in how to overcome that fear of public speaking and speak at international conferences so we have lots of top tips to help you overcome your fear too. Your coordinator will ask “Would you like a 60 seconds slot to speak with the audience?” And if you don’t want it, don’t have it. We do encourage you to stand up and say something like “Hello my name is…. And I’m pleased to be here today.” Break down your fear anyway that suits you – and we will help you too. But if you really don’t feel up to it, your coordinator will ensure you don’t speak. There is no issue with this at all. We want you to feel happy and relaxed while networking with us. It is a popular (scary!) activity on the Insiders getting businesswomen to go live and deliver a 60 seconds so they can get feedback, practice and learn to feel comfortable and confident talking about their business.
- Tell your coordinator you are nervous. They will either encourage you to “Stick with them” or introduce you to a regular attendee. Our regulars want you to feel at home. So, they are quick to befriend people. We are very familiar with New people being nervous and want you to enjoy your time with the BWN – it’s easier to make sales and talk business that way.
- No clickyness policy. It is actually written into our Coordinators Handbook that we don’t tolerate clickyness. If you are on the inside it can feel great to be part of the cool crowd but we aren’t on the playground and it all it does is isolate people. Being in business is isolating enough so we work hard to ensure you never experience it at the BWN.
- Prepare a 60 seconds – even if you don’t want to speak it will help you focus your mind on what to talk about and give you a place to start.
- Good questions to rehearse so you don’t have to do the talking and can relax a bit include “Have you been attending the BWN for long?” “This is my first time do you have any advice for me?” The obvious is “What do you do?” but don’t feel you’ve got to start there. Some amazing sales have taken place because a businesswoman has said “I love your brooch…” What questions could feel natural to you that are open questions.
- Don’t feel obliged to talk. Being in a group of business owners, just listening is a great way to get to know people. Ask for their business cards so you can get to know them online. Our members are very active on our social media and it will help you feel more connected to the group before next time. (You can find all of our social media on our site – do get involved and share your news and blog articles.)
- Post to the Facebook event. Say something like “I’m attending The BWN for the first time, any advice for me?” or “Looking forward to meeting you all – it’s my first time!” People will be keen to support you.
- It is very important to us that if you don’t feel completely at home you tell us. If you are nervous to do that then you can email our Founder. Mandie set up the BWN because she wanted us to be an inclusive organisation helping women in business achieve what they truly wanted to without the big price tag – so if you don’t get that feeling from day one we want to learn. Email our Founder here.
And that is the important thing to remember. As businesswomen we are naturally supportive and caring and want others to benefit from the things we benefit from. That is why increasingly we see businessmen at our networking events because they know they can be honest, network, gain business and learn new skills.
You can’t learn new ideas for your business if you are petrified so congratulations for being honest, we will do all we can to ensure you feel right at home in no time. And then you will be one of the smiley people watching the door for Newbies too!