I resolved over New Years to go to at least one network meeting a week. This is more difficult than it sounds. I have a touch of Acrophobia.This makes me want to run away from densely packed rooms filled with people screaming to be heard. But I take my resolutions seriously.
The other night I went to a mixer sponsored by ideablob at a local bar. Ideablob is a site where entrepreneurs are encouraged and rewarded for coming up with great business ideas. The bar gleamed with hard and cool aluminum surfaces. The mirror polished floor glared out at me. Voices bounced off walls and floors to create a modern Tower of Babel. Bodies were so tightly packed and distorted it looked like they had been compressed by the oversized tire of a Texas u-haul.
At first I watched what was happening from the safety of the sidewalk. All I wanted to do was “Go Home” What finally helped me hold my ground and enter the fray was something I heard Ira Glass say. Ira is the creator of This American Life and is a national treasure, as far as storytelling is concerned. When Ira was beginning to write in journalism school his professor gave him the assignment of going to a local high school and interviewing “interesting students” Ira was perplexed and asked the professor how was he to find these students? His professor replied that he should go to the school cafeteria during lunch and simply watch and listen. Ira was instructed to ask himself “Who are the most vital people in this room?” “Where is the energy coming from?” Once Ira had determined who and what was vital he would go to those people and start asking questions. To his amazement he found that the more he got out of his head and paid attention the better his interviews.
I applied the wise professors advise to the bar situation and not only found interesting people to meet but turned a miserable situation into a blast.
Here are seven steps I use to prepare myself for networking events:
* Before stepping into the room take three slow breaths from your abdomen
* Feel the ground under your feet
* Feel connected to the earth as you move thru the room
* Let go of the voices of judgment in your head
* Watch and listen to the whole room
* Go to the area of greatest vitality
* If you are feeling anxious, tired or unhappy repeat the steps again