Last week I launched a new series of 2 Min Networking Tips (yay!) and moving forward the plan is to write a blog to go with each video – gives me the chance to go into more detail on each topic, and hopefully add a bit more value!
The first in the new series of tips is ‘We’re All In The Same Boat’, and I wanted to kickstart with this because I think it’s really important to remember what a frickin weird situation we’re all in as we start going back out into the world of in-person networking.
The last year or so has, at times, felt like some kind of crazy social experiment. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s felt like they’re in a film at some point or another since lockdown first began, and as the world starts to find it’s ‘new normal’ I can’t imagine that feeling’s going away anytime soon.
We’ve been kept away from each other for so long, we can’t just expect to walk back into a networking event and act like nothing’s happened. It has happened! We’ve changed! The world has changed, and pretending otherwise isn’t going to help anyone – but reminding ourselves that we’re all in this together (to quote High School Musical yet again) can help.
Usually when someone goes to their first in-person networking event they can’t help but feel like they’re walking into a room full of people who are already best friends – they’re the odd one out, the outsider, the new kid in school! But now is a completely unique time in history when we’re all starting out on the same foot. Yes you’ve probably met a lot of people networking online over the last year, that’s wonderful! But you haven’t been in the same room as them all yet. We’re all taking our first steps out into the world again, and we’re doing it together. How amazing is that!?
If there was ever a time to start networking, it’s now.
Starting from square one is exciting, it’s full of possibilities, and if your business has survived this far just image how much it can thrive with the (re-)introduction of in-person networking! But I want you to take your time too. Give it some thought. What are you comfortable with? Do you want to shake people’s hands? What if someone hands you a business card – will you take it? Take some time to figure out what your boundaries are and be okay with them. There’s no right or wrong here, and we’re all working on different timelines so don’t feel like you need to rush in, and don’t drag people along at your speed either.
Figuring out what the new networking normal is is going to take some time too, so speak to the event hosts and speak to other delegates to see what works for them and figure our what works for you. Again, remember – we’re all in the same boat.
If you are nervous about returning to in-person networking (or starting it for the first time) that’s completely normal too! Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, and make sure to take it all in your own time.
If you’d like a refresher on how to network in-person, or if you’re thinking of attending your first ever event, I’ve just released a brand new online course that allows you to learn in your own time and at your own pace! It’s all about ‘How To Network At In-Person Networking Events’ and is full of fun, interactive content designed to help you get back out there and build your network.
If you have any questions about networking, or issues, or area’s you’d like some advise with, just give me a shout either on social or at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll do my best to create a 2 Min Tip just for you!