It causes a fair bit of anxiety for a fair few people.
Stupid, self-conscious, nervous, desperate, demeaning, shallow, clammy hands, dry mouth, forced, embarrassing.
These are just some of the ways that either networking events themselves or the feelings that they drum up have been described to us in the past month.
If you’ve felt any of these things, you’re not alone. Quite the contrary. Take comfort in the fact that you’re actually part of a pretty extensive community.
I’ll make my second reference to American Pie in under a month. Pretty impressive! Ridiculous.
But the way that Jim Levenstein’s first approach to Nadia is captured in slow motion at Steve Stiffler’s party sums up brilliantly how so many of us feel on a cold contact approach at a networking event.
Nothing feels natural anymore. Your sense of self is so heightened that even the most basic human functions, placed under the microscope, become quite a challenge to perform- walking, talking, breathing, listening- Who am I??
However, there’s hope.
I once received a simple piece of advice that has transformed the way that I see networking events. It’s freed me from the prison of my own harsh self-analysis.
How can I help?
Go into every networking event with this mindset: “How can I help?”
And mean it.
Take the pressure off of you, your needs and the needs of your business and be consumed with a genuine and authentic desire to help as many people as you can.
A lot of the discomfort surrounding networking stems from a feeling that you’re selling yourself. As you approach someone, that sense that you want something from the transaction is all too palpable. As soon as you’re in the position of needing something from someone else, it lowers your status and puts far too much pressure on the conversation.
A few years back, I’d seen someone speak at an Expo and felt that they could definitely benefit from our coaching. A little later on, I caught the person having a bit of down-time. I thought, “Ah, I should definitely share my card with this guy.”
However, as I approached him, I suddenly became so consumed with the fact that I was selling and a sincere desire not to be a burden that I spent most of the time apologising for disturbing him. As a result, I got in the way of him actually understanding what we do and how we might help.
In my desire not to be a burden, I became a burden.
Take the pressure off. You’re just offering a little bit of help.
On top of this, think win/win.
“Win/Win is a frame of mind and heart that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all human interactions…win/win sees life as a cooperative, not a competitive arena.” (Stephen R Covey)
You’re not going over there to see if you can win business off of someone. You’re going over to explore if there is the possibility to make their life a little bit easier. If there’s no synergy, that’s absolutely fine.
If there’s no possibility for win/win- ie- if anyone loses out from a scenario where you’d work together, it’s a no deal.
I assume that if you’re in business, then you have something to offer people. There’s nothing shady or untoward there. And you’re only at this networking event because your business may help those people that are in attendance. It would be a shame for people to miss out on this help because you’re too busy apologising, railing against the fact that you hate these events, or over-analysing every little thing that you do.
It’s not about you. It’s about them. Apply this paradigm shift and see what a difference it makes!
Hear from our clients
The Speakers’ Gym is like the iPhone. You don’t realise you need it until you have it, and then you can’t live without it.
Magda Gonzalez, Group CFO, Monex Europe
It was completely practical and the open-forum feedback was so valuable. You created a safe environment for everyone to learn. Thank you!
Nicola Koronka, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Missive
I was recommended by a friend who works in the same sector to contact The Speakers’ Gym to help me with my presentation delivery skills and I have not been disappointed with the results. Chris and Jonny work with you to provide bespoke training for your goals and needs. They are highly professional and make you feel at ease from the first minute the first session begins. I would highly recommend them to those who have a role which involves public speaking!
Julia Peake,Technical Development Manager, Sanlam
It has challenged both my thinking and approach and I will be sure to keep The Speakers’ Gym ‘fireworks’ readily available on my desk to refer to when not only presenting but also when needed through everyday management.
Liz Paradine – Chief Operations Manager - 7iM
Transact first engaged with The Speaker Gym late in 2018 where Chris & Jonny made a concerted effort to get under the skin of our business and understand how they could best help us hone our presentational and empathetic skills. The resulting sessions were hugely helpful giving my team plenty of opportunity to practice and also benefit from a great deal of feedback, not just from Chris & Jonny but by including the rest of the Transact team in the feedback and group learning too. I would highly recommend The Speakers Gym
Glen Sweet, Head of Sales, Transact
Working with The Speakers’ Gym has been fantastic. We knew what we wanted to say and who we wanted to speak to, so all we needed was technique. Or so we thought. Chris and Jonny helped us to understand the key elements of communication, through a structured process. We now think about communication in a completely different way. There’s a line they gave us that now resonates in my head, every time I write or talk to someone about what we do. We feel we’ve met two great guys and they’ve become an important part of us, our story and how we tell it to others.
Thomas Skinner, Founder, Barnaby Cecil Financial Planning
The impact of The Speakers’ Gym™ at Mako can only be described as transformational. Over a three month period, they helped transition a group of individuals into a highly collaborative and consultative leadership team. Chris and Jonny have a unique ability to connect individuals with their true purpose, driving them towards self-reflection and ultimately growth. Overall the entire experience of working with them has been a pleasure and I am deeply grateful for their impact. They more than surpassed my expectations and I look forward to working with them again in the future!
Trystan Morgan-Schauer, CEO, Mako
We engaged The Speakers’ Gym to provide us with clarity and direction in the look, feel and messaging of the Worldmaker brand in preparation for our official launch. From start to finish, the process has been truly collaborative. They worked with the expertise and experience in our team to create branding that truly represents who we are and what we represent, whilst moving us into a more modern, expressive space – which was our desire. We know that we’re in great hands with The Speakers’ Gym. We’ll certainly be continuing to work with them
Mollie Marti, CEO, Worldmaker International
They first took the time to understand our brief and delivered the programme incorporating our culture and brand throughout. They were thought provoking and their unique techniques very well received.
Mairi Cameron, Learning Manager, Nucleus Financial
The Speakers’ Gym gave me the skills and confidence to be my normal self whilst speaking and facilitating. They took the anxiety out of public speaking and gave me practical tools to prepare for and manage public engagements. They also helped me to engage more meaningfully with my clients, for which I am thankful. Highly recommend them.
Matthew Marais, Director, Vertus Capital
I found the sessions to be a revelation, and I wish I had known some of the techniques sooner. It has completely changed my mindset and focused me in on the needs of the audience. With that, the ability to achieve those aspirations has come more naturally. There is always room for improvement, and I will definitely be revisiting The Speakers’ Gym for a refresher from time to time.
Kelly Devlin, Wealth Management Consultant - St. James’s Place Wealth Management