Feel the networking fear…

…and do it anyway writes Geraldine Magnier, Director at Idiro Analytics

If there was one thing I wish I had started earlier in my professional life, it would be networking. When I did eventually take it seriously and cracked the networking nut, I couldn’t promote its effectiveness nor the feel-good factor enough. So, fellow business people… Network! Network! Network! Get over any fear of networking and get out there and while admittedly it is challenging to begin with, feel the fear and do it anyway!
Networking opens up a new way of being as you meet your ilk, who are also in pursuit of positive business making and giving. If nothing else, networking sources energy within and feeds the networker with a sense of accomplishment as you never know the hour or the day that a networking event will benefit you in some fashion or another, be it via knowledge or contact power. There has never been an in vain moment resulting from the exercise of networking. At a minimum, it is a place to process thoughts through articulation on shared business challenges, growth etc, with peers. As you advance in networking, it also helps cultivate deeper business acumen and relationships. Meaningful business relationships form as your respective faces become familiar to one another. That familiarity and continuity morphs into a trust and that’s where the magic happens.
Trust is the springboard to prospective work collaborations with your fellow networkers; they’re your potential co-collaborators and co-creators. Additionally, we become each other’s external colleagues exchanging expertise and experience during the course of business life and this becomes a bedrock in trying times. Placing relationships at the heart of what we do generally means that there’s a win-win. Relationships are everything, the fluid that oils all scenarios and that’s why your network is your stabilising platform.
It’s been very difficult to get out and meet peers over the past two years. With the onset of the Covid pandemic, the last thing on anyone’s mind was having to try and network over the medium of Microsoft Teams or a plethora of other virtual platforms that came out of the woodwork. It didn’t seem natural and a lot of valuable networking fell by the wayside, but now with baby steps we are returning to the world of in-person events at long last. We may feel nervous about returning in person and everyone will know their own limits, but it’s a breath of fresh air to be able to meet people again.
I will never forget the first time I networked. It felt fake, I was embarrassed, self-conscious and went home early having stayed beside the exit door! Now, I see it as a healthy exchange of war or glory stories for encouragement purposes, contacts, insights, outlooks and even care. I now know that networking is about sharing; selling is the last thing that I do when I network, so it all feels easy, pleasurable and meaningful now. Getting a deal comes at the end of all of that, without having to ever sell your soul or wares!

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