I’ve not thought much about “real life” networking for a while, mainly because of mobility limitations; now all my networking is online and I am more comfortable with this, I must admit. It’s certainly far easier than my first forays into networking events all those years ago when I started out in business. That was terrifying; I’ll never forget my first local chamber of commerce event – it was so cliquey with little room for newcomers, never mind shy ones.
In the end I started something different, gently at first, inviting people I knew and people they knew over to my house for cake one evening to see what we could do to support each other – that developed well and gave me more confidence to get out there. I can certainly recommend networking with chocolate fudge cake!
This eventually brought me to a small group of highly trusted people in business within a now-demised network – this group was highly supportive of everyone involved and many of us have remained in touch and will remember that we really did care about each other – that never really goes away when most of us have bared our business souls to each other.
It was within that group that I got to know Andy Lopata – one of our finest networkers – he invited me to a Google hangout in which he and Ivan Misner, who I don’t know directly but of course who also knows a thing or two about this networking lark (he created BNI), interviewed Jennifer Kahnweiler about her work and books around Networking for Introverts. Just up my street and it was a very enjoyable half hour (I do love that it is only this long), one I’d recommend to anyone, not just introverts – everyone should bear in mind that it takes all kinds of personalities to succeed, that the quiet people may indeed have more to share, I’d argue ;). It reminded me of my own times out there in the networking world – the frustration at not being heard and generally giving up if it was just not possible for the louder people to allow other opinions to be included. I’m not anti-extroverts, more pro inclusive people who have the sense to welcome all voices.
One event I do want to, and will, attend as soon as I can is a national WordCamp (a coming-together of WordPress geek-types). While I’m nothing like as geeksome as most that attend such, I will learn much and want to go, being a fan and all… The thought terrifies me on one level – the introvert in me really does not want to go. My way of handling this will be to volunteer as a helper and also to attend the contributor day just before, so I’m giving something and have a purpose, a reason to be there – something Jennifer suggests in her book. This works for me and I was all set up to do just that last month for the London WordCamp, which I could not attend (thanks, gallstones!), but which I’ll certainly make next time…
If any of this rings a bell for you, do watch the video, and perhaps share your ways of handling networking – what works for you?