When it comes to networking, go big or go home!
Posted by Molly Wendell // in Networking
I was speaking about networking at a conference a couple weeks ago, and I asked the attendees if they enjoyed networking. One man raised his hand and said “I can’t stand it. It’s boring. I don’t meet interesting people. Frankly, I’d rather stay home.” And I thought about it for a second, and then said “Well, maybe the problem is not the networking. Maybe the problem is you. Maybe you’re boring. Maybe you don’t have anything interesting to say. Maybe the other attendees would rather you stay home as well.” Sounds a bit harsh. I know. But I mean really – what are his expectations? And how his attitude delivering on his expectations?
Most people I know who enjoy networking like it because they meet some pretty interesting people. But maybe meeting interesting people is not about who else there. Maybe it’s about who you are when you’re there. Maybe the energy you put into networking is the energy you get out of it.
If every event you attend is a snoozer, perhaps that’s the energy you’re bringing to the table. And if every event is a homerun – in that you’re meeting some fascinating people, building some great relationships, and finding a way to help others – then you’re probably bringing a different level of energy to the table.
I’m constantly meeting really interesting people on airplanes. I mean absolutely fascinating! In fact, the last couple flights I’ve been on, the persons sitting next to me said “This flight was too short. I wanted to talk to you for longer.” And I did too! But here’s the thing. I love traveling. I love everything about it. And I bring that energy with me every time I board a plane. Of course I’m going to meet some great people! I’m excited to be there. I’m enthused about the idea of leaving one place and ending up in another. I’m excited about the opportunity to make a new friend. Build a new relationship. Learn a thing or two about someone else’s business. And hopefully, offer up an idea, lead or perhaps just a new friend.
I know quite a few people who never meet interesting people on the plane. Then again, these are the same people who can’t stand traveling.
Maybe this is the lesson. Maybe meeting people at networking functions – be it on a plane, at a business event, the grocery store or even the Friday night high school football game – isn’t a function of the function, but a function of your attitude, your energy and how much you actually bring to the party.
So next time you’re faced with an opportunity to network, do us all a favor. Go big or go home!