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Networking 101 – Practice Makes Perfect

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I know that I am harping on about being an introvert and Networking at the same time, it’s just that I understand the reluctance of an introvert to do any kind of Networking.

The hardest part for me, especially the first few events, was meeting new people. I took a friend along with me, even though he was a Financial Director of a Corporate Company and he did not really need to do any kind of Networking, I needed the moral support. I had no idea what to expect and as the evening progressed and people stood up and said who they were and what it is that they did, my stomach was doing somersaults and my first reaction was to flee. Thank goodness I didn’t.

Soon it was my turn to stand up and be counted. It felt as though my heart was in my mouth and I really couldn’t get the words out. I stuttered and stammered and there were several times, amidst cries of “speak up we can’t hear you”, that I had to take a deep breath and try again. Thank goodness I did.

My friend Philip had to leave early because of some crisis or another at home and there I was, all by myself, in the middle of this crowd of about 30 people, none of whom I knew, scared as hell, petrified in fact, but determined to stand my ground. I stood there like an idiot, glued to the spot, not knowing what to say to anyone and just hoping that someone would start a conversation with me. Someone did and pretty soon we were chatting away. Make no mistake I was still very nervous, still completely out of my depth but I was fine.

The next meeting was a little better and each subsequent meeting after that was a little better each time. I started reading magazines like “Heat” and “People”, just to get some useless information to make small talk and so that I could have something light to chat about or open a conversation with.

Month after month, I continued to go to the Networking meetings and slowly I started building relationships. Slowly but surely I found my confidence and now I am quite comfortable walking into a Networking event on my own because nowadays, there will always be someone that I have met somewhere at a Networking event.

I must say, it has become a lot easier. Is it still difficult for me? Of course it is – I am still an introvert – that has not changed and so the ‘nature of the beast’ remains. Nowadays it is still a conscious decision for me to go to an event – the fact that I am an introvert and conscious of the decision, means that I am more focused on what I am doing and why.

Semi facilitated or facilitated Networking for me, is still the best way to go and it is the best way for me to build relationships and in building relationships I do good business.

So, take a deep breath, hold your head high and focus!