by MSM Coaching on 18th February 2013
So, we're all agreed, are we, that networking is brilliant for business? That heading out to meet new people and make new contacts is absolutely the right thing to do? Well that's all fine and dandy if inserting yourself into a room full of strangers is no problem for you.
However, let's not forget there are a fair old number of us - and it doesn't really seem to matter how far up the business ladder we've climbed - who find a room packed full of people never seen before, just a bit daunting. In fact, in many cases the more senior we are, the more tricky strangers can be because of course they don't have the faintest idea who or how high-up we are, which leaves us level pegging with everyone else!
That said, we'd probably also all agree that lurking behind a pot plant, reading vital messages on your phone, communing earnestly with your iPad or ferreting for something of intense interest in the depths of your briefcase isn't going to result in a number of new contacts and is really not the way to carry on.
So, having once accepted that you and your business need those contacts but it's something you hate actioning, it's probably well worth grasping the nettle and looking at exactly why you might feel intimidated. Over the past few years, I've worked with several senior executives and successful business owners, completely confident within their own territories but uncomfortably out of their depth when heading into a roomful of people they don't know from Adam (or of course Eve).
One of my clients discussed her issues with me at length and then made the decision to eliminate her 'loathe meeting strangers' problem by delegating networking to her business partner who loved nothing better than getting out of the office and glad-handing - you've got to admire such lateral thinking.
A couple of other clients of mine took a different route, realizing their feelings of discomfort in a 'crowded room' situation could be traced back to a single bad past experience. Isolating this and recognising ramifications have in each of these cases neutralised negative feelings completely. So, same problem, two very different approaches and solutions.
You will, of course, generally find a very open and supportive atmosphere at networking meetings - after all you are a group of like-minded people who've pitched up with very much the same aims in mind. You'll also find, as a rule, a complete absence of 'cliquiness'. However, should this not be the case you'll know this isn't a group in which you will want to linger any longer than you have to. And that decision won't be based on the fact that people haven't been very nice to you. It will be because this isn't a friend-making exercise but a business-expanding one and nobody gives or gets business by not talking being open and sharing.
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