It has been my experience that the word Networking conjures up a certain amount dread in most people. I’ll admit I have occasionally rolled my eyes before heading out the door to attend a networking event. Having a basic belief of “you get what you expect”, I thought I would try to adjust my attitude about networking.
With a quick trip to Dictionary.com and I found the following definitions for the word Networking:
– a supportive system of sharing information and services among individuals and groups having a common interest:
– to cultivate people who can be helpful to one professionally
– an association of individuals having a common interest, formed to provide mutual assistance, helpful information, or the like
Supportive…Sharing…Common interest….cultivate….can be helpful….mutual assistance. These are all very comforting words. You would think a networking event would be a wonderful experience. This confirmed I needed to make adjustments.
A little more research and I found that only 5% of adults are comfortable in a room full of strangers. So if most us are uncomfortable and don’t want to be there, how can I make the best of the situation?
I started with redefining my expectations, setting my own rules!
- I don’t have to be anything more than friendly and polite. I can do that.
- I can talk with as many people as I wish. I don’t have to meet everyone in the room.
- I don’t have to come home with a new client. If I meet another professional I can build a relationship with, I have been successful.
Seems so much easier when I do it my way! Just a few minutes of planning and I’m not feeling the dread any longer. I’m heading into my next networking event with one thing in mind…..Just Make Friends!