I hate networking!!
I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard a woman say that to me. It’s sometimes followed by, “How did you get so good at it?” My answer is invariably practice makes perfect and so does having the right mindset. I enjoy meeting new people, probably because I have a very curious nature. In my childhood that was known as being a sticky beak, or nosey parker for my northern hemisphere friends. I’m also gifted with an extroverted personality which means I thrive on the energy of people around me.
I haven’t always felt like that though. I too, used to think arghhhhhhhh at the thought at going to an event alone having to start conversations with complete strangers. I was afraid of being left wandering around events or conferences aimlessly like a lonely kid on her first day at a new school.
My mindset changed.
My mindset changed when I changed roles some years ago and it became important for me to represent my employer, our services and my personal brand effectively. I took it upon myself to get inside my own head, work out what was going on and get serious about what was a necessary part of my job and managing my personal brand. I needed a mindset change.
For the expert opinion on mindset, I highly recommend the book by Carol Dweck, Mindset and the online tools. When I read her book, it was a fantastic reminder to choose my attitude. Every. Single. Day. The book is a bit like a more academic, researched version of “Fish” which was very popular some years ago. Bottom line is that your mindset is within your control. Simple things like choosing to see a networking event as an opportunity to be curious and learn something about someone you never knew before can be a game changer.
Tips & Tricks
I used to have this trick with my kids when they went to school. We’d sit down to dinner and instead of asking ‘how was your day’ or ‘what happened today‘, which would usually elicit a monosyllabic response, I’d ask, ‘what’s one thing you learned today that you didn’t know yesterday?‘ Worked a treat! We soon started to see a bit of healthy competition between brother and sister about who could provide the most colourful, interesting update for the day. (I travelled a lot too, so it was a great strategy for the nightly telephone call.) It’s the same with networking. Imagine you have to give a debrief to those that matter most to you when you get home. What will you tell them when they ask ‘how was it?‘ Wouldn’t it be better for you if you were able to say….’well I met this fascinating person who…‘ rather than, ‘oh god I hate these things and wish I didn’t have to go to them!’ After all, your investment of time (away from your significant others) and money should be a good investment, with a positive return, for you, your career and your life. Getting to the event and in the front door is only the first step.
Get ready, get researching!
There is some great research into the art of networking and why it is important. So for those of you who die a bit inside at the thought of a networking event or conference, or event attending an important meeting at work, have a read. If you want to get serious about tackling your fear or reluctance to network, improve your outcomes, shift your mindset and advance on your terms, then I suggest attending one of my masterclasses, workshops or events.
Come & learn about strategic networking at an Advancing Women Masterclass