After almost 5 years of hosting the Women’s Business Socials, I thought I’d seen it all.
I watched people do some really strange “networking” like:
- show up to hang out with their closest friends,
- stand alone in the corner, and
- a few really “work the room” in a mad-dash to see how many business cards they could collect.
Yeah, I even had to intervene a time or two when a few ladies got so drunk it started interfering with the group (not my favorite job nor an effective networking strategy, in my humble opinion).
Networking is a catch-22 situation, really.
You know you need to meet new people and you can’t do that if you’re just commuting to work and dashing home. But the pain of going to events, standing around trying to make small talk with people you don’t know. It can be exhausting. Especially after working all day.
If you’ve ever done one of those less than stellar behaviors at a networking event, don’t feel too bad. (Except for that crazy drunk lady that showed up, she can wallow for a little longer.)
It’s natural to try to ease the discomfort you feel being in a room full of people you don’t know…
It’s natural to gravitate towards friends and familiar faces. Or to give yourself a task like collecting business cards (because come on, let’s face it, you’re a task master!) It feels “productive” to be that busy, to have a purpose, to feel like you know what you’re doing.
Trust me, I know what you’re going through. Before I started the Women’s Business Socials, I attended dozens of conferences a year because my husband Jason is an professional speaker. He’d be the only person I knew in a room full of 1,000 people (while he was up on stage presenting). It felt like I was standing alone like a wallflower for days… then it was time to pack up and fly to the next conference.
That’s when I realized I couldn’t keep living like this… I needed to change.
I needed to LEARN and PRACTICE better networking behaviors that fit with my style.
Networking is actually a skill, that you can customize to fit your personality and style. (Side note: Watch out for anyone who tries to change you into something you’re not. You can be an introvert and still be GREAT at networking. It just may look different.)
Over the years, I’ve been training business owners like you, to build their business by building their network. One of the most powerful keys to doing this successfully is not doing it alone. This is especially true for freelancers and solopreneurs. It may seems like you’ll save time and money by doing all the work yourself, but it’s a dangerous trap that can drain you of all of your creative juices.
YOUR ACTION STEP: Reach out to 4 people over the next month. Set up one-on-one time with them. This can be on the phone, in person or even video chat (like Skype or Google+ Hangout). Start now to set up one a week for the whole month. At the end of the month, see if you notice a change in the insights and information you have access to, from intentionally building your support network.
Good luck! I know you’ll be great.