By Bob Salvas
|“Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers
you cannot be successful or happy.”
-Norman Vincent Peale
Many people would agree with this statement in general. But when it comes to networking specifically, confidence escalates
to an absolute requirement. Think about it: every time you are face-to-face with someone, YOU are the brand. There is no
hiding behind online or offline marketing messages. You are it. This can cause nervousness and wait, that does not project
confidence, does it?
So how do we become more confident in networking situations? Here are some thoughts:
PRACTICE- Yes, get out there and NETWORK! You can’t be good at networking by going once anyway. Each time you go,
you will be less nervous. You will find that it is not as bad as you imagined (as are most things we worry about needlessly).
It can help to go to some events where you will know people or to attend an event with a friend. Of course, you cannot
just talk to your friend. Get out of your comfort zone and meet a couple of new people. The more you do it, the easier it
will be next time.
LOOK GOOD- When you look good physically, it is easier to feel confident. Your grooming, your clothes and your
posture are all part of the equation. These things also contribute to a favorable first impression. One note of caution:
Do not overdress. If you are wearing a tux and everyone else is wearing a polo shirt, you may be seen as needing attention
(“Look at me!”). While it can be good to stand out in a crowd, it has to be for the right reasons.
FEEL GOOD- Right along with looking good is feeling good. A person in good health, who is generally energetic and
happy is someone others want to talk to. Also remember to be aware of your body language. In addition to posture, be
sure to make eye contact and have a good handshake. And most importantly: SMILE! When you smile, you attract people
to you and often people smile back, which makes you feel good and of course, confident!
ATTITUDE- People are attracted to a positive attitude and repelled by a negative one. A person who is confident, even
if they are having a bad month or a bad year, are self-assured that things are going to get better (yes, they are confident).
Not only is focusing on the negative a turnoff for those around you, it also suggests that you lack confidence in your future.
LEARNER- A confident person is a continuous student in their particular line of work. No one ever knows everything and
if you act like you do, people will not find you believable anyway. Conversely, if you do not know enough, people may not
see you as an expert in your given field. This is one reason why those who jump around to various industries have a harder
time finding success in networking. They may do a good job of projecting confidence but how confident is the other person
in them? It is hard to refer or hire someone who you see as brand new to an industry or if you wonder if they will still be in
that industry next week. If you are truly a student of your industry and can humbly share your knowledge, you will be seen
positively by others and will gain confidence in yourself. It is OK to change jobs or situations, but the closer you can stay to
your previous industry, the better.
Always remember that confidence is NOT a competition. It is not “I am better than you”. It is about being the best YOU
that YOU can be and in striving for that, you in turn want to help others…not beat them. Confident people are givers…yet
they NEVER suggest they are better than anyone else. They are just confident in their own abilities. People who do act
superior to others are not confident, they are arrogant.