By Elaine Knowles, Brazen Careerist
Tribune Media Services
June 1, 2012
There she is. The most confident business woman you've ever seen. She's owning the room. Gliding from one person to the next with a wide smile and a look that says, "I'm the best at what I do."
She must have been born that way, right?
Probably not. A lot of us have to learn how to be confident in business ... that's right: learn.
Whether you want to start your own business or simply need more confidence to land that promotion, you will need to make great connections with people. So here are some ways to gain confidence when it comes to networking.
1. Never forget: You're the best!
Ever wonder why top athletes accomplish amazing results? Because they program their mind to focus on achieving their goals. They have a talent and they truly believe they can succeed.
You, too, have amazing talents; you just have to believe in them. This belief will instill a type of confidence that you have never before experienced.
So consider your skills and talents. Think about how you know that you are the most organized and the most knowledgeable on a certain topic, great with your budgets, excellent on deadline. ... There's no doubt you're good at something.
Keep these in the forefront of your mind at all times, and believe in your abilities. This will help you connect more confidently when networking, no matter your situation.
2. Open your eyes and observe.
Focus on observing and mimicking confident people. Watch those around you and take note of how they behave. Don't stalk them or freak them out by staring, but notice their behavior and attributes.
You'll likely see that confident people walk tall, offer a welcoming look and smile a lot. These are simple attributes that you can mimic.
I'm not saying copy the most flamboyant peer in the office to a tee. That would be career suicide! But observe how they use their confidence to project the extrovert in them.
3. Be comfortable in your own skin.
No matter who you are, learn to feel comfortable with yourself.
In every situation, whether at the office, at networking events or even at the bar for after-work drinks, you stand tall, sister.
What you wear can have a big impact on how you feel. So don't wear a low-cut top and over-the-knee boots to a business conference; leave that for the pub. If the dress code for your event is smart casual, don't wear jeans; go for your professional look.
Dressing the part will help you stand out, but for the right reasons.
4. Look people in the eye.
This is an important point often overlooked by introverts. I've been at meetings where experienced managers look at the floor. I understand it's hard to be something you're not, but start with small exercises, whether networking or in meetings.
Look people in the eye and give a welcoming smile when you walk into the room. When starting a conversation in a networking situation, put out your hand confidently, introduce yourself with your name and workplace, and do your best to make eye contact.
5. Communicate with clarity and warmth.
So you're really enthusiastic about making a connection with a particular person? If that's the case, help them feel that enthusiasm.
The more you communicate with clarity and have warmth in your tone, the more your genuine interest will come across. You want them as a contact, right? They're not psychic. Let them know and make an impact during your first meeting, because you might not get another chance.
These behaviors may not come naturally, I know. So practice. Practice your tone out loud in front of the mirror or with a good friend. Practice looking people in the eye, even when you're buying your morning coffee. Practice your firm handshake, your smile, walking tall and standing tall on the subway or on the bus. Keep at it and you're sure to see results.
<i>(Elaine Knowles is a contributor to Brazen Careerist. She writes at Working Sirens. Careerist is a lifestyle and career blog for ambitious young professionals. This isn't your parents' career-advice column. Be Brazen.)</i>
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