Operations

How To Beat Networking Anxiety

Lexi Tucker
Posted on March 8, 2017

This will only be my second International LCT Show, but I’ve already learned a lot about this industry over the course of just one year. One thing that sticks out is how approachable and helpful most operators are. Now, I’m not a shy person (how can you be a journalist if you’re afraid to pick up the phone and ask someone for a comment or interview?), but I know at least a few introverts circulate in the limo networking crowd.

As a Millennial used to connecting with peers through texts, emails, and social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, I understand how some of the younger Fast 40 operators may feel when thrust into a situation where they have to meet face-to-face. Naturally, some are better at it than others. It’s not that we are anti-social; we are just used to having our digital personas do the work for us.

That’s why I thought I’d use this column to give new and seasoned introvert operators a hand. Whether this is your third or 30th show, here are some tips to help anyone overcome social awkwardness:

  1. Don’t Psych Yourself Out With Unrealistic Goals

As you prepare your list of to-dos for the event, don’t be impractical. Over three days, you’ll be given numerous opportunities to speak with fellow operators; set a manageable goal to help you get the most out of them. Just handing out your business card will yield weak results. Instead, tell yourself that by the end of the Show, you’ll make at least three to five meaningful connections. This helps take a bit of the pressure off when you see social butterflies on the floor trading cards at a pace that makes you feel like the world is about to end.

  1. Create A Conversation Cheat Sheet

Some people just aren’t good with words — and that’s OK. We can’t all be like the keynote speakers at the Show (who I’m very excited to hear from). However, anyone can brainstorm a list of better conversation starters than “How big is your fleet?” Create a cheat sheet you can look to whenever you feel at a loss of things to talk about. Open-ended ones like, “How did you decide you wanted to be a part of this industry?” or “What kind of challenges are you facing?” can get people talking.

  1. Think About Why People Are There

Why do operators go to LCT Shows? I know this may sound like a dumb question, but take a second to think about it. It’s not just for the informative education sessions, expansive Show floor, or even the kick-ass parties we throw. Everyone there wants to meet new people they can build strong professional relationships with.

So don’t let thoughts like “What if they don’t like me?” or “What if I say something lame?” rear their ugly heads. The best piece of advice I can give you is just be yourself. No two operators are exactly alike, and that means you have a new story to tell everyone you come into contact with.

A good friend and industry member I interviewed for the networking article in this issue, Nick Lopez of JACO Limo in Louisville, Ky., said something so incredibly true that really puts things into perspective:

“You have to understand you have too much value and too much to share to not be out there helping others. People can learn something from you; if you realize there are things you can help people with or educate them on, it’s selfish to not do so. You have to look at things with an attitude of service.” After all, it’s what luxury ground transportation providers do best.

And to all of you extroverts on the Show floor: If you see someone who’s standing on the outskirts of a conversation circle and you’ve just finished your own discussion with someone, be the person who walks up to them with a big smile and make them feel welcome. Every friendly action counts; it’s what sets you apart from TNC drivers who could care less about their fellow gigsters.

LEXI TUCKER is LCT assistant editor and coordinator of the LCT Fast 40, a group of operators under 40 who collaborate and learn from each other about all aspects of chauffeured transportation. She can be reached at [email protected]

Related Topics: ILCT 2017, LCTFast40, Lexi Tucker, limo tradeshows, Millennial Matters, Millennials, networking, tips for success, tradeshow preparation

Lexi Tucker Associate Editor
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