How I Learned to Love Networking

I Hate Networking!

I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard a woman say that to me. It’s sometimes followed by, “How did you get so good at it?” My answer is that practice makes perfect and so does having the right mindset. I enjoy meeting new people, probably because I have a very curious nature. I’m also gifted with an extroverted personality which means I thrive on the energy of people around me.

I haven’t always felt like that though. I too, used to think arghhhhhhhh at the thought at going to an event alone having to start conversations with complete strangers. I was afraid of being left wandering around events or conferences aimlessly like a lonely kid on her first day at a new school. Or, stuck in the corner studiously assessing my iPhone. (sound familiar?)

My Mindset Changed

My mindset changed when I changed roles over a decade ago. I learned quickly that it was important for me to represent my employer, our services and my personal brand effectively at events, conferences and of course online. I decided I needed to decode my self-talk about why I hated networking events so I could work out what was going on and get serious about what was a necessary part of my job and managing my personal brand. In short, I needed to shift my mindset about networking and my professional brand.

One of my tools was to read Mindset by Professor Carol Dweck.  The book has great tools about how to shift and deliberately choose my attitude. Every. Single. Day.  I realised my mindset is within my control. Simple things like choosing to see a networking event as an opportunity to be curious and learn something about someone you never knew before can be a game changer.

Tips & Tricks for Networking Success

I used to have this trick with my kids when they went to school. We’d sit down to dinner and instead of asking ‘how was your day’ or ‘what happened today‘,  which would usually elicit a monosyllabic response, I’d ask, ‘what’s one thing you learned today that you didn’t know yesterday?‘ Worked a treat! We soon started to see a bit of healthy competition between brother and sister about who could provide the most colourful, interesting update for the day. (I travelled a lot too, so it was a great strategy for the nightly telephone call.)

It’s the same with networking. Imagine you have to give a debrief to those that matter most to you when you get home. What will you tell them when they ask ‘how was it?‘  Wouldn’t it be better for you if you were able to say….’well I met this fascinating person who told me an interesting story’ rather than, ‘oh god I hate these things and wish I didn’t have to go to them!’ You can do this by getting a set of interesting questions ready to ask new people and of course, be ready with your own superpowers story to show how insanely interesting you are! After all, your investment of time (away from your significant others) and money should be a good investment, with a positive return, for you, your career and your life.

Get Ready!

There are so many women who die a bit inside at the thought of attending a networking event. That is why I have chosen to design and curate WWGI events, so women in business have safe, fun, informative spaces to learn how to network, go beyond the superficiality of simply exchanging business cards and LinkedIn connections and really have the opportunity to do business together.

I take action to make sure that the women who come to my events are set up for success. Simple things like an attendee directory that is sent to you before the event, facilitated networking exercises and expert commentary from women who are nailing it, are all my ways of ensuring women in business have the spaces and places to learn, connect and advance. Plus awesome food, wine and prizes!

If you are one of those women who would rather eat a box of hair than go to a networking event (especially on your own) then its time to get serious about tackling your fear or distaste by coming to my next event. I promise you that you will learn the techniques of high impact networking, connect with like-minded women in business and extend your strategic network. Plus you’ll have fun!

Come join us at WWGI. It’s where women learn, connect and advance.

This post is adapted from Argh! Not another networking function via Advancing Women

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