I have a confession to make. Sometimes – in fact, usually – I hate networking.
As a professional speaker who is frequently in the public eye, it is often assumed that networking would come easily for me. In reality, I often cringe when I am expected to walk into a roomful of strangers, pass out glossy business card, and try to remember my elevator pitch. Traditional networking is not my idea of fun.
I happily describe myself as an ambivert, teetering just as frequently to the introverted side of the social see-saw as the extroverted. At a networking event, it can be difficult to find the resolve to “get in the game.” But, once I take that first small step forward, a funny thing happens. I realize that there is one fundamental part of networking that I don’t hate – uncovering the spark of a meaningful connection. All I have to remember is that networking is just a fancy word for meeting people. And I like to meet people. In fact, I love it.
With this new definition of networking, I soon discovered that my next spark of connection often happens in unexpected places. Whether it’s the buffet line at a summer picnic, while watching my son’s T-ball game or a leisurely walk at the lake, all I have to do is stay alert and just keep meeting people.
I certainly don’t click with every person I meet. There doesn’t have to be good chemistry every time. Knowing that is very freeing. The good news? All it takes is one spark to light a fire.
The next time you find yourself hating the idea of networking, apply the steps below and reverse engineer your way to your next meaningful connection.