Being yourself in the theatre of networking

Originally posted on 31st March 2015

I recently went to the fantastic Northern Power Women‘s Conference in Liverpool.  I absorbed so much great information to think about that I can’t write about it all, but generically the conference covered topics about gender equality, the pay gap, a lack of female exec’s in the FTSE 100 companies (as recently reported) and the expectations of young women for the future.  It’s all swirling around in my head and is bound to pop up in later posts.

It was inspiring, but you know the biggest extra I got out of the day was a massive, huge, humungous social “hit”.  I’m naturally a talker, some would say an extrovert, so if I don’t find like-minded people to shoot the breeze with and to challenge me I find my brain shuts down.  I lose focus…… on everything, I atrophy.

Skills for life, used at work.

I wasn’t always like that, I used to be uncomfortable in putting myself forward or in the spotlight.  But when I went travelling to avoid the age 30 crisis about 15 years ago I made a concerted effort to be seen, I had to how else would I discover a new life?  I found out that I can talk to strangers, I can make great decisions and I am really interested in what people do and say.

More than that I finally had evidence that people’s curiosity and intent is mostly positive with a desire to build relationships.

I was reminded that I really value and miss the networking opportunities that my previous employers offered and that networking in offices can be weird and a bit contrived.

The ones!

At work I used to enjoy standing back and being a watcher at these events.  In your life you may have seen the “proud salesy” one, the “new joiner” one, the “I was told to be here” one, the “I’m the boss” one, the “I’m better than the boss” one, the “confident relaxed” one, the “it’s a party isn’t it?” one, and the “quietly working the room” one, the “I get it” one, the “company values” one.  The list is endless and despite their staged appearances, just like my travelling experience, most people will be there with a positive intent to build better working relationships.  So when I began to believe in that joined up need to connect I started to enjoy the theater of a networking event… honest

Don’t worry if you are not a believer just yet, maybe you just need to find some other place to sparkle.  Try to use the more natural places like at the coffee machine, in the lift, between meeting rooms, on the commute, at the sandwich shop, the gym, online and so on ….these encounters tend to be hierarchy neutral and can provide a great opportunity to be the “real” one.  I like these hints supplied by Jeff Woodward on LinkedIn where he says essentially [you need] a standard answer, crafted in advance, to the “Who are you and what do you do?” question.

 

Being you, being “real” will help cultivate right type of relationships and bring more opportunities that are right.  Just think, in your life the people you remember are either so awful that you have etched them to your brain so you can avoid them… forever!  Or they had something really authentic about them, you believed them.

So what?

Is your networking working for you.

  • What’s stopping you make connections that work?
  • Don’t enjoy networking?
  • Do you lack confidence?
  • Don’t know what you’d talk about?
  • Don’t think anyone is interested?

I’d love to help you make new and improved connections.

Email me on SueSchilling@outlook.com

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