Business Networking: Use the Buddy System

The Networking Buddy System

The Networking Buddy System

Does walking into a room full of people at an event, conference or networking meeting feel intimidating or uncomfortable to you?

You are NOT alone!

(Confession time – it scares my stilettos off sometimes, too!)

Nobody said that you have to network on your own.  In fact, isn’t it more in line with what networking is all about to do it WITH someone else?

This is where The Buddy System comes in.

1.  Choose Your Buddy.
Choose a friend or colleague who knows enough about you and your business to talk about it to someone new.  Also, look for someone who actually LIKES networking, or one who is good at it or someone who is committed to using relationship building as part of growing her business.  This will ensure that you don’t end up hiding in a corner somewhere exchanging networking horror stories instead of making great connections. 

2.  Share Your Goals.
Before going to the event, be sure to share your networking goals and what you hope to accomplish by attending.  Set 1 or 2 measureable goals ( Ex. make 3 new contacts in the banking industry or polish and perfect my new introduction/elevator pitch by using it at least 5 times, etc.).  Share with your “buddy” any areas that you wish to have help with and be specific about how they can support you during the event.

3.  Take Turns Taking the Lead.
Attend an event together and alternate “taking the lead.”  Take turns approaching new people and introducing one another to the people you meet. When making introductions, “brag” for your partner a little by telling the new contact why your “buddy” is so good at what they do.  It always sounds so much better when someone else toots your horn!

4.  Support and Encourage.
Be supportive and encouraging to one another and offer constructive feedback regarding your connecting skills.

The purpose of going with a buddy is to alleviate some of the stress and awkwardness that comes from being “all on your own.”  It also gives you a great way to be accountable for achieving your connecting goals.

Have you ever used the Buddy System?  If so, leave a comment below and let me know your experience and any tips you have for making it a success.

Comments

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  1. I love this article Cathy! I think it is hard for many of us (and I would say especially many women) to enter a strange room alone. However, you also don’t want to go to a networking event and only speak with someone you already know. Your tips keep that from happening!

    I would like to share this article in my online paper, Access Profiles – “Week in Review”. A new edition comes out every Wednesday and I would like to share this in the 03/06/2013 issue.

    Here is a link to my paper if you would care to check it out: http://paper.li/KimKline16/1358369457

    I found your post through the LinkedIn group, Pittsburgh Professional Women.

    Thanks, Kim Kline

    • Cathy Jennings says:

      Thanks, Kim!

      There are still times when I freeze or have to take a few deep breaths before walking into an event or unfamiliar setting — and I LOVE networking! :-) The key is to remember that you have value to offer the world in what you do and who you are. Changing our mindset around networking will allow us to truly use our gifts and talents.

      I’d be honored to have this in your online paper — I’ve emailed you directly.

      Cathy

  2. Awesome Tips!!!!

    Definitely love the first tip on finding a buddy who also enjoys Networking. Standing in the corner talking to one another isn’t Networking and won’t do anything for either of you.

    I’ve always found it easier to be with someone else who enjoys the art & love of meeting new people.

    Great tips! Mike

    • Mike,

      Thanks for the comment! Networking in general would be so much more enjoyable for EVERYONE if the people there actually enjoyed it, knew how to do it and supported one another. Hooray for the ones who “get it”!

  3. Love this article and so true. I give this advice when people join my team as well. Thanks for the reminder. LOVE IT

    • Jill,

      I can imagine that in your line of work that networking is a key component of building your business. And, that so many folks aren’t sure where/how to start — so suggesting the buddy method makes sense!

  4. Kay Rose says:

    I’ve never thought of doing this, but makes perfect sense. Thanks for such a great idea!

    • Kay,

      So many of us aren’t as good at talking about ourselves or our accomplishments/expertise. That’s why it’s nice to have a buddy along to help sing your praises and brag on your behalf because they genuinely know you, like you, and want to support you. It’s fun too!

  5. Hi Cathy. I like your idea of a buddy. I have only done a few small group events and I usually find out more about other peoples businesses than I do sharing what I do. I think that’s why it’s easier for me to do the online networking. Thanks for the idea.

    • Patricia,

      As an introvert, I absolutely LOVE networking online — so I’m right there with you! However, there truly is something great about meeting folks in person and being in their energy that I’ve come to appreciate as well.

      Glad you liked the idea.

  6. This is a great idea and great tips to make it work!

  7. What a super idea! From my days at the chamber of commerce (and all the related conferences and conventions I attended), I am used to being the “newbie,” and it can be scary. But if you’ve got a pal you can work with it, so much better. Great tips.

    • Jackie,

      I’ve moved a lot and had to get comfortable meeting and talking with people as a “newbie”, too. I’m naturally an introvert, so it took some practice, but now I really enjoy meeting new people and especially enjoy being the networking buddy for newbies and my introverted friends.

  8. This is really interesting. I’ve talked about networking, presented on networking and I’ve done networking myself and I’ve never purposely used the buddy system. I like this idea. Thanks.

    • Yakini — I definitely recommend it and especially to those who tend to be more introverted. It takes off some of the pressure, gives a great sense of support and if you have a great rapport, the energy you give off is more confident and fun.

  9. It seems more natural to work with a buddy through a room, too. When we lived in San Diego I was working for a company doing outbound connecting. because there are so many entrepreneurs in the area, they would host major networking events in huge arenas. It was insane. Smaller, more personal connection is better. What a good read!

    • Amy — I’ve never been a fan of those “mega mixer” events — they ARE insane! Having a partner in crime (aka, “buddy”) is so much more fun in any setting, right?

      Thanks for stopping by!

  10. Stacey McCoy says:

    I’m definitely not a social butterfly , this was useful.

    • Stacey,

      One of the things I love most about social media is that it is so introvert friendly! It allows us to “socialize” on our terms and when we have the energy to do so. I personally love it for the ability to meet and interact with people all over the world without having to attend large, noisy, crowded events in person!