No More Mrs Wallflower
13th May 2015
If you are a naturally shy person, then you may find the prospect of networking and entering a room full of strangers very daunting.
I used to be the proverbial "wall flower" preferring others lead the way. However, having completed the ABN Networking Academy course, I can honestly say that my ability to network is helping me perform better in my job (I promise, Andrew Smith (@abncommunity) hasn't paid me a penny!).
Of course, I always knew that successful networking would help raise my profile, meet new customers, create new opportunities, develop my knowledge or just explore new ideas. But I was worried I'd be left tongue tied and appear unprofessional.
The light bulb moment came when I realised good networking is just about being genuinely interested in the person you are talking to, sitting next to, or introduced to. It's not about selling yourself, your product or your service – and that took the pressure off me.
The way I see it now I'm building up a network of authentic relationships in the hope that sometime in the future I'll be able to make beneficial introductions between the people I know, like a connections matchmaker.
Along the way I'll meet people who will require the service that I can personally offer, but I know they'll only choose to work with me if they like, trust and respect me.
I also learned that everyone has their own style and that it's important to choose networking opportunities which work for me, that might be determined by considering the location, the format (including online vs offline) and the topic.
Networking used to mean "grin and bear it", here's what it means to me now.
Nice: be gracious. People will remember how you made them feel rather than what you actually said to them.
Expectations: keep it real, you're not going to meet interesting people all of the time, but usually, you reap what you sow, so always consider how well you contributed.
Time: determine the time you have to network and make that time effective.
Work at it: the more you network the better you'll be at it.
Observe: watch and learn from people who are great networkers and good orators.
Relationships: need nurturing.
Knowledge: share what you know if it's going to help others.
Good luck saying goodbye to your inner "Mrs Wallflower".