No matter how much I point out that networking happens every day, I get a lot of questions about how to handle the big (if infrequent) events, including “Why go?”.
If mentoring is a relationship that starts with a coffee date, then networking events are group dates. A group date needs an activity – golf, food, shopping, class, event, etc. around which folks can gather. Sometimes the reason to gather is a bit forced; those are the overt networking sessions. Sometimes, when the gathering isn’t strictly announced as a networking function, we have to remind ourselves that large gatherings are prime time to do some meeting and greeting.
Events or rooms full of people/strangers or large crowds make me uncomfortable. If that hasn’t changed after all these years, it probably never will. But there are a few things I do to make it easier for myself.
First, I remind myself what networking is not.
Then, I set a goal for going.
If you don’t know why you’re going, don’t go. If the speaker or topic isn’t compelling, if you don’t want to talk to folks, if you’re not sure what the point of leaving your chair may be… then sit that one out.
A goal can be what’s important to you. For example:
• someone in particular with whom you’ve been hoping to connect
• supporting a friend
• hearing a good speaker
• practicing your introduction
Your goal should fit with your overall plan for yourself around how you’d like to build a community.
Start with ‘why’ go. We can talk about what to do when you get there in another post.