So, if you are unfortunate (or fortunate) enough to have networking thrust upon you…how do you cope with all of that? How do you go from just trying not to drown to doing laps around the pool?
Allow me to share my experience with you:
It starts out by approaching people. Just getting the guts up to approach them. By now I can just do it and introduce myself, but when I started out I would give a single compliment…and then slink out of the conversation, face red, heart racing.
This is a helpful tactic. It allows you to see that people aren’t going to be mean to you when you talk to them. 90% of the time, their face will brighten and they’ll glow and you’ll have a moment. The other 10% of the time, you are talking with a sociopath, and you should be glad for the excuse to leave. Don’t worry: it wasn’t you.
From this, you will build. First you will compliment people. Then you will ask them one question about themselves. Lather, rinse, repeat. Before you know it, you’ll work up to full conversations. Then you’ll get used to asking for contact information. We barely know each other and only have one thing in common? Who cares! Type your contact info into my phone. We will do coffee, and it shall be grand.
Your concept of what is “possible” will expand. Your concept of “socially appropriate” will expand. You will start to realize that when people say “no,” it’s because of them–not because of you.
And then one day you’ll wake up and realize you’ve somehow constructed a formidable, living, breathing, evolving, network. And you’re a rockstar. And you’ll be very proud of yourself.
So go for it. Step outside your comfort zone this week. Go to a social event. It doesn’t matter where. And challenge yourself to compliment just one person. Then make a habit out of it. You’ll be impressed at how quickly and dramatically it changes your life.