Archive for August, 2008

PostHeaderIcon Networking – Taking the plunge

Last week, someone asked for advice on the best way to approach their very first networking meeting. It’s a very daunting thing to do, as we generally find ourselves in a situation that is WAY outside of our comfort zone.

The question made me remember my own first networking meeting. It was terrifying! I stood outside of the venue for about 10 minutes, having a massive internal debate with myself about whether I should actually enter or not. I finally decided that I had nothing to lose, so took a deep breath and walked in. I was greeted by some very nice people, who took my money, gave me a name tag and then cast me adrift into a sea of total strangers, who all seemed to know one another, leaving me as the only “newbie” in the room.

One of the reasons I chose this particular event to attend was because there was a guest speaker that day who I was very interested in seeing. So instead of trying to mingle (that was just too scary) I took a seat, and pretended to look busy, going through my bag, making sure I had lots of business cards.

After what seemed like an eternity, someone came and introduced themself to me. I could have hugged that person, I was so grateful! And so I started ‘networking’. The session began with a game of ‘network bingo’ which, as cringe-worthy as it seems, was actually a fantastic ice breaker. By the time it was over, and the guest speaker began their presentation, I had made some ‘friends’ and didn’t feel anywhere near as uncomfortable as I had done only 30 minutes prior.

As a result, I have since joined that particular group, and I attend their functions regularly. I always make an effort to seek out any “newbies” and introduce myself to them, so that they don’t feel quite so uncomfortable. It’s such an unusual situation for us to put ourselves into – voluntarily entering into an environment that is so foreign to us, exposing ourselves to the scrutiny of total strangers, and yet we find ourselves going back again and again. After you get the hang of it, networking can become quite an addiction.

I’m yet to gain any clients from my networking efforts, but I am confident that with time and effort, I will forge relationships with my networks that will result in referrals and clients. Till then, I’ll keep putting myself out there!

Till next time,