I viewed networking as a problem

We all walk into networking events with our own thoughts and attitudes about it.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how networking has changed for me in the last two to three years.

How it’s evolved since I noticed that something wasn’t working and started all the reading, programs and research that led to where I am today.

And through this reflection, I realized I had a bit of problem vs opportunity thinking happening.

What I mean by this is three years ago I viewed networking as a problem.

Yes, I viewed networking as a problem.

Networking was a chore to be completed. 

It was something that I did to check the “I went to a networking event this week” to-do off my list.

It wasn’t even a place I could really say I was completely present, because I was so busy focusing on how uncomfortable I was and hoping no one was going to try to “sell” me their services.

How well do you think that attitude worked for me?

Well, if you view successful networking as how many new clients did I generate from networking, then the answer is NOT successful at all!

Seriously, at one point early on I had problems even giving away my services (yep, you read that right).

At some point this shifted and instead of networking being a problem, I started viewing it as an opportunity.

It became an opportunity to make initial connections with potential clients and referral partners.

It became an opportunity to meet new entrepreneurial friends.

And how well do you think this attitude worked?

Again, if you view successful networking as how many new clients I generated from networking, then the answer is it WORKED!

So, how did this attitude shift look?

When networking was no longer a “Yep, I did that this week” task, I started staying a bit after the events to talk with people.

I started talking with and learning about more people, instead of scanning the room looking for someone that fit my ideal client description.

Phone calls and emails after events to people that were interested in what I did or to people that I wanted to learn more about became easier – it was an extension of the opportunity instead of another to-do.

This shift didn’t happen over night.

I didn’t even notice it until I started reviewing what’s changed.

My question for you this week: what shifts have you experienced in the last 2-3 years? Share below.

woman thinking "what if..."

What do all these thoughts have in common?

woman thinking "what if..."
“I don’t like networking because no one talks to me.”

“That group is really clicky.”

“No one there is interested in my service.”

“Walking into a room of people I don’t know is really intimidating.”

“Networking is hard because I’m an introvert.”

“You have to be an extrovert to network well.”

“Networking just doesn’t work for me.”

You know what all of these thoughts have in common?

They’re stories.

Stories you tell yourself to give yourself permission to not network or reach out to people.

But they feel true, don’t they?

Painfully true.

So, let’s play a game.

Think about how networking might change for you with each of these questions.

What if everyone else in that room is as scared as you are?

What if they’re not talking to you and are clicky because they’re afraid that you won’t like them.

Or because it’s just easier than putting themselves out there.

Or because they’re an introvert too.

Or because they’ve also convinced themselves that networking just doesn’t work for them.

What if you assumed that everyone there wanted to talk to you, but they don’t know how to start the conversation or approach you?

What if you assumed that the people in the clicky group would LOVE you, but they don’t know how to politely excuse themselves from the people they’re with?

What if they’d love your service if you gave them to opportunity to learn about you?

What if you have the networking advantage because you’re an introvert (seriously, you kinda do, because you skip the small talk and want to really get to know them and create a connection)?

What if networking does work for you, and you just haven’t found a way to network in a way that works for you?

What difference would this make for you and your business?

Share in the comments below. I’d love to know!

Woman thinking: Were there any missed opportunities here?

Missed opportunities

Woman thinking: Were there any missed opportunities here?A couple of weeks ago I shared a story about a woman attending a new networking group, it not being quite what she expected and her leaving. You can read it here.

This week let’s go over the third and last question: Were there any missed opportunities here?

Well, yes, yes there were! Many actually.

Let’s start with perhaps the less obvious missed opportunity. The one by the two women who regularly attend that group.

There was one thing that the person in charge could have done to more immediately make guests feel at ease: make sure the hostess knew they were there!

It’s a small thing, but it might have helped put their visitor a little more at ease.

The other missed opportunity was the conversation they all could have had if she stayed 15 to 30 minutes longer.

She shared about herself, her business, and that she was new to the area.

And she got to know a bit about the other women and their businesses.

But had she stayed longer she might have learned about the other groups in the area that she should check out – the ones where they regularly have a larger number of attendants.

She had already determined that the ladies there weren’t potential clients and from what they shared about their businesses that they weren’t potential referral partners either (this is a plus, because she clearly knows how to identify both!), however, she didn’t share who are great referral partners for her.

They might have been able to point her toward some really great connections and potentially introduced her – if they would have been given the opportunity.

So, there were some missed opportunities on both sides.

What are some of the opportunities that you realized you missed when you thought back on meetings or events? What did you do differently so you didn’t miss those opportunities again? Share in the comments below.

Woman thinking: How do you think this was perceived?

First vs lasting impressions

Woman thinking: How do you think this was perceived?A couple weeks ago I shared a story about a woman attending a new networking group, it not being quite what she expected and her leaving. You can read it here.

This week let’s go over the second question: How do you think this was perceived by the two ladies remaining?

First impressions are an interesting thing, but not the only thing.

After all, the very first impression she made was a good one.

She walked in pleasant and smiling and very clear about what she did and who she served. She came prepared with not only business cards, but a brochure!

She was interested in the other women there and the group. She asked all the questions you’d expect someone new to ask and was conversational.

And then she said she had to leave, I have all those things to do back at the office — I’m so sorry. And left.

The women remaining looked at each other and shrugged after she left — apparently building a business relationship with the two of us wasn’t high on the agenda today…

The first impression was good, but the one they left with — well, I bet she won’t be coming to mind anytime soon for a referral from either of them.

And the lasting impression she left wasn’t probably what she was thinking about as she walked out the door.

Maybe the work on her desk was more important then the lasting impression she left or maybe it wasn’t. Or maybe she got caught up in the conversation in her head and the uncomfortableness she was feeling and found an escape route.

The maybe’s don’t really matter.

The fact is she left, and that wasn’t good or bad — it was an action that she decided to take.

And the remaining ladies reacted also isn’t good or bad — it’s their perception of that action.

The easy thing to do here is suggest you think about how you’ll be perceived before you make any decisions (staying, going or otherwise).

But that won’t server you. You’ll never be able to leave a 100% positive impression on 100% of the people you meet.

And trying to do that will drive you batty and you’ll always be stuck in your head.

Instead before you walk into events, think about how you want to be (set an intention). What do you want to feel (or embody)?

Then, if you’re at a meeting or event that isn’t a good fit, check back with yourself — if I were fully embodying the intention I set, what would that look like? Would I stay or would I go?

Have you ever left a bad impression on someone and was okay with it? Or maybe you didn’t realize it until later? Share in the comments here.