How to alienate people and lose business before you even get started
So you finally decide to follow Marcie’s advice and get out of the office to attend a networking event. You’re not much of a socializer, but it’s been a while since you’ve talked with anyone besides Shroeder, your schnauzer, and your book is due to be released in just a few months. It’s time to start building that platform and making connections! You diligently scan Meetup.com, the newspaper, and other notices about groups in your area and you think you found one that will appeal to you.
You arrive at the venue, shrug off the trepidation, and walk in to find yourself warmly greeted. Maybe this won’t be so bad, you think to yourself. You’re no sooner seated and have said hello to the person next to you, when a guy in a top hat comes out and, much like a circus announcer, commands the whole room to stand up, shouting through a bullhorn, no less. He turns on some raucous music, and soon the whole room is clapping and swaying. NO, NO, NO! you think. This is NOT what I came here to do!
OK – that’s a bit of a far-fetched scenario. But it is possible that you’ll set out to attend a networking event to meet new people and sometimes you’re invited to participate in an icebreaker activity that just seems REALLY stupid or ridiculous. Your first instinct may be to shut down, with the adamant thought: I am NOT doing this!
A number of years ago, I made the attendees at one of my business development groups do the Hokey Pokey at the start of the meeting. Really! Did people think it was silly? Of course they did. But those who allowed themselves to participate laughed, enjoyed it, and wound up talking about it for weeks afterward!
That Hokey Pokey lesson is really the whole point of networking: Only when we put our whole selves in can we expect to see any major results. If you choose to sit out of group exercises because you think, “This is stupid,” “I’m too cool/smart/sophisticated to do this,” or “What will my guest think of me?” you’re missing out on a great chance for connection.
If you have a tough time joining in, I invite you to rethink your resistance. For one thing, you won’t be the only one looking foolish – the whole group is participating! And if you watch them, I’ll bet you see that they’re having fun. By sitting out, you’re demonstrating that you can’t relax and just let loose for a while. Sure, sometimes these group exercises just outright flop. But even that can be an opportunity to shine: Instead of being the first one to blame the organizer, be the first to offer your support. They will remember and appreciate you!
A great deal of business success involves stepping out of your comfort zone. If your next networking event presents you with such an opportunity, I challenge you to take it! You may be pleasantly surprised at the eventual results.
Our next topic in our Author Networking series is about the importance of getting involved in the groups you join.
We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.
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