Networking sucks! – Birds on the Blog

Networking sucks!

It’s a funny concept, networking. For as long as I can remember I did not like walking into that room when you had to ‘network’.

Once upon a time I felt sick, anxious and downright uncomfortable. I found the hidden agenda quite stressful and historically considered myself as not very good at it.

I’d like to think it’s an irrational fear but there are tangible reasons for feeling that way. It goes back to the ‘suited and booted’ years of trying to impress, for all the wrong reasons. My first experiences of networking were very much along the lines of “It´s not what you know, it´s who you know” and that just felt creepy to me in my 20´s when I first became self-employed and the room was full of men with bad-breath.

As a result, I pigeon-holed networking in my mind and dug my heels in and refused to play nicely with the big kids. However, I’m getting much better at it these days by changing my mindset and being way more selective with whom I network with ie. women. It’s a completely different ball-game and one I am much more comfortable with, which is a surprise to me to be fair.

I know some of my business-minded female friends don’t actually understand my love of networking with other women. To them, it’s as if I’m being a reverse feminist, a traitor to the cause or even openly displaying my rejection of men. But it’s not like that at all, and to be honest I’m too old now to even bother explaining it to them and we agree to disagree. If it’s not for them then so be it, but in my opinion, they are missing out.

If you are still undecided about networking in general, or maybe don’t quite get it right at times, then maybe these tips will help.

Be brave

The people in the room are not as scary as they seem and mostly have no other reason to be there than to meet new people and get to know the area and the local business framework. So, deep breathe and imagine rainbows and butterflies, rather than storms and dragons.

Be kind

Think of them before thinking of yourself and the standard ‘what’s in it for me’ approach. How can you help the next person you talk to at a networking meeting? By not expecting a takeaway for myself I found the conversation flowed much easier. I wasn’t stressed and wondering how much business I’d walk away with that day. It wouldn’t say it’s a breeze every time but I’m certainly more relaxed than I used to be.

Be yourself

If you try to be anything other than who you are deep down you will be deceiving others and yourself. Don’t try full stop. Just be you. You are in business for a reason and as long as you know why and who for that’s all that matters. Being someone else in a networking meeting will result in you attracting the wrong kind of collaborator, who really is not a good fit for you.

Take your time

Networking is not a quick fix for your business. It’s a timeless trail that weaves its magic when you least expect it. Allowing your honesty and enthusiasm to shine through time after time is priceless. I have opportunities landing on the pathway of my business life that were tiny side streets maybe two years ago or more. Those people remembered me and my passion for what I do and now the time is right to go down that road together.

So, the moral of the story is, that whilst I’m a stubborn mule I try very hard to embrace my inner unicorn at every opportunity and networking has written stories for me that are making a huge difference in my world, so maybe it isn’t as bad as all that after all.

Fiona Catchpowle is a Facebook Specialist living in Marbella. Her focus is teaching SME’s how to use the platform effectively within the framework of their business. With a passion for ‘light bulb moments’ her methods are fun, focussed and create amazing results in a short space of time.

www.fionacatchpowle.com

About the Author Fiona Catchpowle

Fiona Catchpowle is a Facebook Specialist living in Marbella. Her focus is teaching SME’s how to use the platform effectively within the framework of their business. With a passion for ‘light bulb moments’ her methods are fun, focussed and create amazing results in a short space of time.