If you, like me, you understand the value in networking and see it as a pivotal role in making new contacts and creating opportunities, however break out in a cold sweat at just the though of it, then read on.

The first time I remember going to a networking event was with an old boss of mine in 2008, he and I walked into a room which must have had nearly 200 people in it, I quaked in my boots. I stuck by his side for at least the first hour, watching and listening as he worked the room.

One thing I quickly picked up on, was that he knew exactly who to make a beeline for, people he knew and recognised and could instantly strike up a conversation with, like a pro that he still is, he’s one of the best I’ve seen work a room in that situation, and I have him to thank for enabling me to overcome some of my nerves. Here are just a few things I picked up along the way.

1) If possible, get a delegate list before you go, study it and see if there is anyone you know, it’s always easier to break down those nerves earlier on if you become relaxed talking to someone you know.

2) Look again at that delegate list to find someone you want to talk to, maybe a potential client you’d love to work with. Do your homework, find out what you can about them, is there any commonality, a place you both worked, a mutual connection, something they’re interested in. That will help you break the ice.

3) Introduce yourself, your name, what you do, the company.

4) Be sure you have your story straight, keep your elevator pitch simple, how you help, the people you work with, the value you can bring.

5) Show a genuine interest in them, what they do, what their company does and the type of people/clients they work with.

6) If the conversation is going really well, but your conscious that you don’t want to monopolises all of their time, be honest and say that as much as you’d like to talk all night, maybe we should arrange a coffee/meeting to pick up the conversation more formally.

7) Look good, simple, but first impressions really do last.

8) If you get a business card, whether it’s from the ideal prospect or not, follow up, let them know it was great to meet and talk to them, build your network as you never know where people turn up next.

9) Enjoy it, and be yourself. People still buy people first, so don’t take yourself too seriously. Have fun along the way.

It’s not rocket science, nor is it a difficult skill, it’s simply changing your mindset and enjoying it.

At Wayout Consulting, we work with agencies of all sizes and disciplines, whether you’re a start up, a young and rising star, or established, we help you achieve growth through better relationships.

So if you’re after a bit of advice to get more clients and some new business through the door, want to grow your team or even need to a bit more structure and process, give me a call and let’s meet for a chat.