Recently I was doing one of my talks for a group of college students when one student intimated to me his nervousness that someone he meets may not like him. It was a very understandable sentiment that I run across frequently. Of course, the only response I could give him is that fact of the matter is, we can’t control whether we will “click” with someone. Any relationship building, whether for business or personal carries with it the risk that with some people you meet you will simply be unable to make a genuine connection. And frankly, that lack of control dissuades many people from effective networking.
Effective networking requires practice and practice requires executing repeatable patterns. The patterns you create begin with setting smart goals for why you are going to network. Give yourself a goal for how many people from whom you will get a business card. Then you need to create a plan for how you will approach your networking. When working a room don’t be afraid to pick a routine. For instance, work the room clockwise. Practice approaching someone with the plan to state who you are, why you are there and to find a common trait you have with the person you speak with, whether superficial or a little deeper.
Ultimately, practicing the skills that make you good at networking will help you control as much of your experience as you can. You can’t control what people will think of you, but you can control how you prepare and present yourself.