I love using writing to reflect on my experiences… here’s a short anecdote from my early days of networking in 2010, recently shared in a presentation for the WA Club’s Accelerate Women’s Discussion Series where the topic was ‘our networking experiences’.
Another networking event where I arrived a minute short of late. It was an early morning breakfast in Cottesloe, and as I looked out at the quiet expanse of ocean under a sky just brightening, I wished I could stay out here and stare at the sea in my half-sleep.
I resisted the brief feelings of new kid at school as I waltzed into the restaurant with an air of confidence, wrapped in my fabulous white Winter coat. My heart sank a little as I took in a room full of grey suits and realised I didn’t fit in here.
Well forget that, I thought, plonking my bag down at one of the tables, I didn’t just get out of bed at 5:30am in the dead of Winter for nothing! I said hello to the lady sitting alone at my table, without taking a seat, then was off to interrupt a conversation, shake hands and introduce myself. With a big smile, I butted into a small group standing nearby, though my senses were screaming at the artificiality of the situation. But I relaxed as I was welcomed with warm smiles and the introductions went round, and I was soon in deep conversation with a lady who was telling me all about how she got into feng shui.
It was at this breakfast that I decided that a bit of colour, a big warm smile and lots of laughter would be my thing at networking events. It chases away my inner shyness and allows me to enjoy meeting new people. I also decided it would NOT be my thing to hand out lots of business cards – I’ll hand them out if it works in a natural exchange, but otherwise I keep them tucked away and just concentrate on having a real conversation.
After breakfast I lingered a while to talk to a few more people I wanted to meet, and to thank the host. Then I was off, quite gratefully I must admit, for a solitary walk by the sea.