Do You Secretly Hate Going to Networking Events?

Posted by on Jun 19, 2012 in Blog | 10 comments

Do you secretly hate going to networking events?

Do you find that you just don’t connect with the other people?

Do you just not “get” people?

You’re not alone.  In fact, I bet that everyone reading this has felt resistance towards connecting with others at one point or another.  As for me, I’ve felt it a lot through my life…I’ll give you a little history about myself…

I was the nerdy girl in school.  I was smart, really smart and studied hard and followed all of the rules.  I was the “goody two-shoes” and the “teacher’s pet.”  I was the girl that people always looked at and said “Hey, do you speak?” or “Hey, smile!” or “Hey, why the long face?”  I was often accused of being “stuck up.”  I was not stuck up, or aloof, or mad.  Yes, I spoke, a lot, frankly, if you got to know me.  I am simply an introvert and I was shy at the time.  I also never felt particularly drawn to add to a conversation that I knew nothing about with people that I didn’t understand.

But I was also very driven and I realized in my teen years and early adulthood that if I wanted to get anywhere in life, other people were going to be a part of the equation (no geeky pun intended).  I had to learn to crack the people code, if you will.  An above average IQ wouldn’t get me too far, I needed an above average EQ or Emotional Quotient.

Here’s what I learned.

1.  People are nice.  People are really nice, in fact, especially if you expect them to be.  If you go into a situation being very guarded you’ll get awkward responses from people.  Most people will selflessly go out of their way to help you if you let them.  If you were teased as a child.  If you were the nerd, the jock, the princess (remember the movie The Breakfast Club?) let that role go.  You are you, not some archetype and others are individuals too.

2.  Interacting well with others is a learned skill.  If you are shy, rejoice!  Because here is the secret to all human interaction: Let others talk and keep them talking, about themselves and their business and they’ll love you for it.  They’ll think you are an amazing conversationalist.  In fact, people really don’t like others that dominate the conversation with story after story about themselves.  The “showboats” don’t really make it in business over the long-haul.  You know that person yucking it up in their really loud voice at a networking event?  They’re more like the proverbial “used car salesmans (no disrespect to great car salesmen) than a real person.  A sign of a very high Emotional Quotient is the ability to be a real person.  You don’t have to be the loud, overbearing, person.  Everyone just wants the real you. What a relief!

3.  You can try to fight it but the reality is that business is done through people.  You might as well learn how to deal with people, influence them, and be friends with them.  Your richest rewards through networking will be the enduring friendships that you’ll build but make no mistake, people network to get business done.

Maybe it is unfair, but talent and hard work are not enough.  You need people to purchase your goods and services, people to hire you, people to employ, and people to introduce you to other people.  Without relationships with people you’re just stuck.

So what do you do?

1.  Choose a networking organization or association that you like.  You don’t have to go out and join everything and try to be everywhere, especially at first. Just join one group, maybe two.  You are looking to meet one or two people that “get it.”  Networking is a tool through which you’ll find like minded people that want to serve one another, without expectation because they know that by doing so, everyone wins.

2.  Attend regularly.  You can’t build the relationships you need in business by attending once or twice.  You’ve got to be consistent and you’ve got to be in it for the long-term.  So it’s better to choose even one group and be consistent than to just go out everywhere just once.  Relationships are built through consistency.

3.  Get involved.  Help out any way that you are allowed.  Having something to do and being  a part of the team that helps to put something together will give you more exposure and help you feel more at ease.

4.  Give help.  When you help others to feel comfortable, make connections, or learn you’re actually taking your mind off of yourself – – and that’s good.  You’ll feel more at ease about networking because it won’t all be about you.  You’ll also be sowing the seeds for great business relationships and friendships.

5.  Ask for help.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  If you are scared, say so.  If you want to be introduced to someone – just ask.  If there is some resource that you are lacking such as additional employees, customers, or referral partners, engage your network and be very specific.

So if really hate the whole networking thing, it’s ok.  You don’t have to love it.  But if you want to get ahead in life, you have no choice, really.  You have to find a way to know and be known by others.  Over time, your feelings and anxiety will just go away.

I don’t pretend to know everything.  I’m always learning and  I know that I’m far from perfect in dealing with people.  I’m still working to build my own people skills.  But this still geeky, once-shy, girl is now a passionate believer in the power of helping others and building relationships with others through networking.  In fact, somewhere along the way, it became more than just something I did to get business, it became fun.  If I can do it, you can do it too.

 

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10 Comments

  1. Hi Lourdes, Great article. Networking is somewhat intimidating for the first few minutes no matter how outgoing you are. Then you realize that each and every one of the individuals in the room probably are feeling the exact same way. I have missed your luncheons. Between Spring Break and my kids ( 8 and 10) and then our busiest months I have not been able to attend them. Kids will be here again the month of July so I will see all of you once again in August. Thank you for all of the hard work and exceptional energy you put into each and every one of your luncheons to provide the ultimate networking experiences ever!!

    • Awww…Amy such nice words. Thank you. I’m looking forward to seeing you in August!

  2. Woohoo baby! Look at you, now!!! I would never have guessed that about you, Lourdes. — Well maybe the high IQ part, but not the rest. I was far from a straight A student, myself.

    I can relate to much of what you say. No one would describe me as a people-person. But I do enjoy the crowd at both networking luncheons I attend. Although getting up & speaking is still the part I dread. Often I go to extremes trying to make it fun.

    I feel the events have enriched my life & helped me to grow.

    • Dianne, I think most people can relate in some way. I would never ever know that you dread the speaking part. You do so well! I love all of your creative introductions and costumes! And YOU have enriched all of our lives and challenged us to grow. I’m glad to call you my friend.

  3. Hi, Lourdes!

    Sometimes something just really resonates with you and this article certainly does! I was painfully shy in school and only slightly less so now

    It’s fun sitting with the people you already know ….but the whole point is to get out of your comfort zone and meet, greet and mingle! That is the hard part for me.

    Since I had cancer I’ve had a hard time jumping back in….so here’s me jumping back in 🙂
    I’ll be out of town for the July luncheon but I will commit to be there in August!

    My best to you, my friend!
    Jo Ann

    • Jo Ann,

      So glad you’re “jumping back in” “Come on in, the water is fine!” That is the best part about what we do. You can come back anytime.

      What you went through was sobering and life-changing. It’s no wonder, really, that you’ve had a bit of a challenge getting back on course.

      See you in August!

  4. Lourdes, what an insightful article – my, but you were describing ME! You make a very good case for networking – getting along/ahead in business is all about people and building and maintaining relationships. You put it so eloquently. I have truly missed attending the meetings. We are short handed here in the office and my business has grown (yay!) so I need to spend more time focusing on clients (not much time for fun networking right now). I appreciate your keeping me on your distribution list as I really do enjoy reading the articles. Thanks Lourdes for all you do! Dee

    • Dee, so glad you enjoyed it. We’re really all in it together aren’t we? We have missed you. I have missed you…but I have big,huge, amazing plans for this effort that will increase our collective scope and ability to connect with like-minded business women everywhere (hint hint) thus expanding our networks exponentially. Stay tuned on that. Of course there is no substitute for seeing eachother in person, so just remember, as we’re here, live and in-person, when you’re ready.

  5. Thank you, Lourdes, for your wonderful article. Being retired for a number of years and then getting back out into the business world has been a difficult transition for me. I have come to realize the value of networking but feel like I’m on the outside looking in. With your help and some other wonderful people that I have met, I’m transitioning from retiree to business woman. Will see you in Vero in July.

    • Kris,

      It’s normal to feel like you’re on “the outside” when starting out with any group. But, in our group all of us are “insiders” – all of us. So a hearty welcome to you – brand new business woman! I’m glad you are a part of our community!

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