Thursday, July 03, 2008
Take the pain out of networking
|Women of the Baby Boom era were raised in a different social climate than we have today. Girls were discouraged from being aggressive. We were taught not to speak up too much in class. We often felt we were smarter than the boys we hung around with, but, we were cautioned against letting them see that, lest they feel inferior. We heard sentiments like “Behind every successful man, there’s a woman.” BEHIND every successful man… and we bought it. Crazy, huh? Today’s young women would never put up with that.
Many of us developed a comfort zone back in the second or third row. But you can’t stay there and achieve anything significant of your own. When I became a new business owner after a long career as an employee, I was faced with the challenge of networking. I didn’t like it.
Then I joined NAWBO-OC and attended the orientation meeting where I learned a more useful way to think about networking. Here are some thoughts that helped me overcome my reluctance to walk up to perfect strangers and talk about myself:
1. Nobody likes it; so you have something in common with everybody in the room.
2. You can rehearse. Prepare an “elevator speech” that tells the essence of what you do in about 30 seconds. If 15 is enough, better yet.
3. You can always start by asking another person about herself. You’ll probably learn something interesting.
4. Most people are really nice.
5. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.
There, now that wasn’t so bad, was it?