Networking

May 3, 2012 at 11:15 am Leave a comment

I hate that word.

Anxiety, anyone?

Networking is really important though, and it is one of my resolutions (for a good reason – see point one). But when I think of networking, I remember all those times I’ve walked into an event where there is a massive room full of people talking – and they all seem to know each  other and I am the only one out. I can’t deal with those situations. Sometimes the room is small, sometimes it’s massive. I have a hard time though assessing the room and finding a manageable piece.

I know that networking is really about relationships. And that you can network on a more 1:1 basis, too, by asking individuals to meet for coffee, and then asking that individual to introduce you to someone else you can meet for coffee, and so on. But I can’t avoid the larger opportunities to network forever. That’s why I really appreciate this tip from Harvard Business review about networking for introverts:

I recognized that one-on-one conversations would be my lifeline during networking. Generally speaking, business events — and particularly networking events that require engaging with groups — are demanding for introverts. An antidote to this, I learned, is to seek out conversations with one individual at a time. When I approach events this way I have more productive conversations and form better business relationships — and I’m less drained by the experience.

Going into the room knowing you’re going to find a few people to talk with on an individual basis seems like a good strategy. And, I think it’s important to remember that you’re really just looking for people you want to build relationships with – so it’s OK if you’re talking with someone and you both realize you don’t have anything in common.

Petrilli also addressed my inner self-doubt in her blog post:

 I worried that my target would not be interested in talking with me or that I would make them uncomfortable. I learned over time that when I extended my hand with a smile and an introduction my effort would be reciprocated, even when I approached executives above my rank.

Well, yes. I am always worried people perceive me negatively. I know, it sounds like I am still in high school, but it’s the truth. I had a big meeting at work on Monday with my members and some elected officials, and although it went really well, I felt awful about it because I perceived that I came off a little odd to those officials. Crazy, right? I need to get over that. I need to look people in the eye and smile, and know deep down I have something worthwhile to say.

Networking is a big hurdle for me to get over. But the only way forward is to figure it out, and then push through.

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Entry filed under: Career. Tags: , , , , , .

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