I visited a networking group the other day in Melbourne. There were all types of service providers and product sellers present with varying levels of networking experience. As I walked in, I was greeted by the welcoming attendant, my details were taken and I moved further into the room. I mingled and chatted and found out about other people’s businesses, what makes them tick, who they know, what interests they have and what their aspiration are. As I moved around the room, out of the corner of my eye I kept noticing this one lady by herself. She was dressed professionally but there was no colour or eye-catching detail on her clothes.
I moved over to her and tried to connect. Her answers were polite, yet short. She offered no additional information and asked me no questions in return. I’d seen this before, so thought I’d persist and take a risk. “Are you a little nervous?” I asked. And then it all came out…
She told me she was terrified. She thought she didn’t measure up to the others in the room. There were accountants, lawyers, corporate types and entrepreneurs here she told me, before adding they had so much more experience than she. She went on to tell me she felt inadequate and wished she had never come.
I motioned her over to a quieter area and, without telling her what I did, suggested that many of the people in the room probably once felt like she did at that moment. She doubted it.
Eventually, we came around to what she did. She was a bookkeeper who had just started her own business. “Well, that requires bravery,” I said, before asking, “What’s the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?” Her answer was buying a one-way ticket to Europe when she was younger. “So,” I said, “Networking is just the next thing you’ll have to be brave about.” She then reeled off a few more personal accomplishments she was proud of and told me how each one had made her nervous at the beginning before she’d mustered the fortitude to overcome the fears.
Networking can be daunting. But I bet you’ve taken on several daunting challenges in your life before – haven’t you? If this is the case, ask the attendant at the door to make a few introductions for you to ease your passage into the room. Sometimes, this little bit of grease on the wheel can help you find the bravery required to give networking a go.
Join us on 28th February for our Regional Women’s Summit in Geelong with George McEnroe. Learn, be inspired and network with like-minded businesswomen.