Confession: I consider myself a pretty average networker, and after a little bit of identity angst, I think I’m okay with that. I’ve always been on the shy side when it comes to group situations, and warm right up when I know people. So getting from knowing no one to knowing at least a handful of people is a big accomplishment for me, and has helped me to feel a lot better about going to networking events. I don’t do a ton — I’m definitely not the person handing out business cards to anyone with a pulse — but there are a couple of events each month that I really try to attend, with the goal of meeting a few new folks each time.
I think there are a few reasons I’ve felt anxious about networking. I’ve been the sole leader of my company, MyDeejay, for the past six months or so, and venturing out without my extremely gregarious and well-connected husband and partner was a big adjustment. I’ve also worried that I wasn’t nearly as fashionable as a lot of the fabulously stylish women in our industry (I’ve pretty much made a uniform out of an LBD). Finally, in spite of the fact that I run a business I’m ridiculously proud of, and have 15 years’ experience in this industry, I still felt insignificant — I’m not in the trenches anymore at all, and face it, managing a team of guys from behind a computer is a lot less glamorous than what the aforementioned fabulously stylish women do!
After jumping in, though, I discovered a lot of my fears were pretty unfounded. After all, most of the people at a networking event are there to hang with friends and to make new friends. Some are outgoing, and some are even more shy than I am. And yet, almost everyone is nice (or is smart enough to at least pretend to be nice, since it is, you know, a networking event). It hasn’t been nearly as intimidating as I thought it would be.
So now, I find myself actually looking forward to the few get-togethers I attend each month. I like meeting people, connecting with them on social media and slowly widening the “circle of awesomeness” I’ve created. So much so, that I applied and was selected for a gig hosting Thursday Therapy, a super-welcome, friendly networking concept created by Sage Wedding Pros. (DC-area wedding folks: our launch party is on Thursday, May 3, and I hope you will join us! I promise it’ll be a completely stress-free mingling experience!)
I hope that anyone who’s apprehensive about getting out there will give it a shot. Ask pros you trust which groups they enjoy. Bring a wingman (or woman) but don’t be glued to that person all night; go in together, have a few conversations as a team and then split up to work the room. And try to keep an open mind. If you can do that, you’ll more than likely get something positive from the experience.