I struggle with ‘networking’, full stop.
It’s an unnatural thing for me, and hopefully some people will empathise with me. But in my experience, there have been many wonderful moments where I simply get opportunities to meet truly amazing people. Some of these people are thought leaders in their industries and what not. Some of them have led me on to other more interesting people.
Here’s what I’ve learnt through these:
Just be genuine. There’s nothing to be gained from going out there and trying to ‘meet’ people so that you can ‘use’ them someday down the track. The best relationships are with people whom you simply connect with, and are able to be genuinely find their life story interesting.
Don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s common for people to ‘steal’ each other in the middle of conversations during a ‘networking event’. It’s OKAY. Just move on and treat it as an opportunity to talk to someone else, and to meet other people that you otherwise wouldn’t meet if you had been comfortable talking to just the few. And when you don’t understand something, or don’t ‘get’ a joke, don’t be afraid to ask at the expense of looking silly. The only stupid questions are the ones that never got asked.
Be present. The best thing you can do for someone when you’re with them is to be there. Like actually just be present to the moment. You can’t hide this. Our body language, which does 80% of the talking, is dictated mostly by things we are not even aware of, like whether we are being present to someone or not.
Be generous. I believe in an attitude and a lifestyle of abundance. There is more than enough resources, information and money out there in this world for everyone. There’s no need to want to just hoard more and more. There is a certain joy that comes out from being able to share and believe in people through the sharing of words, good food and funny stories.
Have fun! There’s nothing like good laughter, genuine smiles and a merry heart that does wonders for building genuine friendships. It’s like they say, if you can’t play together, you can’t work together. So yeah, play, tell jokes, share your most embarrassing moments and simply have a good time together!