I want to start this pretty simple. Talking about “Networking” seems kind of BORING… but there are so many different topics to discuss. Most people think, ‘Well, I attended an event, so therefore I networked.’ Um, yeah. Besides the eye-rolling and groaning about the topic, the biggest complaint I have received from friends and clients is they don’t know how to approach people at these events. Even how to talk to a client one-on-one. How not to sounds so, “robotic” and “scripted.” Well my friends, there is an art to being a people person. Or just pretending to be one.
I didn’t grow up being social at all. I guess, as a child, I didn’t feel like I needed to be social. I had my little brother, who was my best friend at the time and was always attached to my mother at the hip. You know, that crying, screaming kid that doesn’t want to go to school and leave her mother’s side? Well, fast forward into adulthood. I did eventually grow out of my shell after high-school and became more comfortable talking to people. Even in my early 20’s I didn’t really have a need to meet new people. I had a good group of friends and felt outgoing enough to be around them.
November 2014 I took the plunge and moved to Connecticut from New Jersey, closing the gap between my 2-years long-distance relationship with my boyfriend. (Still going strong by the way.) My first job in Connecticut was in insurance sales. My boss was very leery about hiring me, not being originally from Connecticut and not knowing a soul. I set out to prove him wrong. I was going to be successful at my job, meet people, get clients and flourish.
I started poking around online and found the website Meetup.com. Anyone hear of it? It’s becoming quite popular or people looking to join different kinds of social groups. I saw something I liked, hit JOIN and looked at the schedule for the next Happy Hour. January 2015 I walked into a restaurant I’ve never been too, going to talk to people I’ve never met, trying to socialize with them. I felt nervous! The first person I actually talked to was the bartender. Lol. I stood at the bar, looking around, pretending that I was having fun, gulping my wine nervously. Praying that someone would approach me and start up a conversation. My mind was racing. Thoughts kept running through my head… You know, the typical things women think of. “Does my makeup look OK in this lighting? Does this outfit make me look fat? Do I look approachable? Stop crossing your arms Sharon!”Fortunately, I made the acquaintance of some other Happy Hour newbies and was happy I FINALLY made some connections.
My point is that sometimes you have to let yourself be a little uncomfortable and step outside your comfort zone. Making connections is about feeling comfortable with yourself and having confidence. Learning how to follow-up with your new connections is vital to your business and rewarding to boot. In the time that I've been in Connecticut, I've made some great connections, amazing friends and have had more doors open for me than I eve