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It’s Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. You were late for work, again, because of the stupid traffic. You missed lunch because you were on the phone with an upset client. And you already have the feeling that tomorrow’s meeting with your boss isn’t going to go well.
As you look at your calendar you notice that tonight is your association’s monthly meeting. The speaker sounded interesting when you sent in your check. But, now all you want to do is order some take-out and watch a little reality TV.
We’ve all been there. It’s easy to applaud the idea of networking. After all, everyone knows that people would rather do business with people they know.
Unfortunately, networking is like eating a healthy diet. We all know we need to increase our contacts if we want to be successful. But, we’d rather not walk into a room of 50 people we don’t know. We know we should eat a healthy diet, starting the day with something like Oatmeal for breakfast. Now oatmeal is OK, but I know I’d rather have a jelly donut.
It’s the same with networking. You know you should go to the association’s monthly dinner. But, at the end of another long day you’d rather go home and snooze in front of the TV.
However, the more often you go to events the easier it will become. And as your networking efforts begin to bear fruit, you’ll become more excited when you have the opportunity to connect with new people.
Here are a few ideas to get you going:
Just go. At the end of a brutal day at the office getting there usually is more than half the battle. Once you begin talking with people you’ll be surprised at how quickly time passes. Particularly if you meet someone you like.
Call a friend. While we often think of networking as meeting new people, it’s also about nourishing our existing relationships. Call a friend, maybe someone you haven’t seen in a while and ask them to come along. It’s a good opportunity to reconnect.
Leave early. Give yourself permission to leave early if you’re not enjoying yourself. Depending on how long the event is promise yourself that you will stay for the cocktail hour only. Sit down for dinner only if you really want to.
Think dinner. Yes, it’s supposed to be about the people, not the food. But, think about how nice it will be to sit down and have someone wait on you for a change. The thought of a good dinner can sometimes give you the push that you need to get there.
Take it easy. Go to the event without an agenda. Don’t worry about whether you meet anyone who can help you find another job or send you new client. Have a glass of wine, relax and enjoy yourself. You may be surprised at what happens when you’re not trying so hard.
While missing an event now and then, won’t make much of a difference in the scheme of things. Dropping off the circuit for several months can stunt your networking efforts. It’s tough to build relationships while sacked out on the sofa.
Before you decide to skip the dinner, take a few minutes to think about why you decided to go in the first place. Try a few techniques to get yourself going. You may find that you have a better time than you thought you would when you sent in your RSVP.