Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Networking Part Four: Getting it Done

I actually thought I was finished with my series on networking. It seemed like I covered all the bases, and with the millions of networking opportunities I've had lately, I should be an expert, right? Wrong.

The truth is, I've gone to a lot of networking events recently. And I have met some people and gained valuable contacts. It's not because I'm great at networking, though. In fact, I've gone to one or two events where I haven't talked to anyone. Last night was a prime example of how paralyzed I get at these events.

My husband and I attended a gathering of a local group for young professionals at a bar downtown. I was counting on a few people I knew being there because I'm just not comfortable walking up to a group of people (or even one person) and starting a conversation. If someone I know is present, I can talk to them and they can introduce me to others. However, if I'm in a room full of people I don't know, I don't really do anything.

I spent almost the entire evening talking to my husband. (Not that talking to him is bad, but I can do that at home, and he isn't going to get me any business.) After about an hour, I finally saw someone I knew and talked to him for about five minutes before he had to leave. He introduced me to one person who left as soon we started talking.

Luckily, my husband saw a guy he went to high school with who came over and talked to us for a while. One of his coworkers (and part owner of the company) joined us, and he might actually have some business to send my way.

If I hadn't met that one guy, would the evening have been a total bust? Probably not, since it was a pleasant atmosphere and my husband and I got to enjoy some time together. However, I also realize I missed an opportunity to meet a lot of people who may be able to help me.

I have two more networking events today. Luckily, I'm going to those with my graphic designer friend, who is determined to introduce me to her contacts. Even so, I know I need to get better at this though it doesn't come easily for me.

To that end, I've been looking for resources to help me get over feeling shy at networking events. So far most of what I've found has been patronizing and even a bit insulting, but I did think this article was pretty good.

1 comment:

inasnit said...

The more you do it, the easier it will become. While not exactly the same situation, the past couple of years, I've been the Trails Edge face at Interbike and had to introduce myself to a lot of industry folks to enhance business for the shop, and also to ask for sponsorship in some situations. I get better ever time I talk to someone, and this year I was MUCH more confident and sure of myself than I was 2 years ago when it was my first trip.

Hang in there, and keep at it. You'll find a "schpeal" that will work for you and you'll become more comfortable selling yourself. You have a very strong personality in your fingertips (writing)- it will work its way to your vocal chords eventually :)