Networking. When you read that word are you full of energy and looking forward to your next networking event? Or does it conjure up dread in having to make small talk in a room full of strangers? Like most of us, you most likely fall somewhere in the middle of the networking bell curve. I have known folk who truly come alive with networking… they LOVE it. I have also come across folk who would rather stab themselves in the eyeballs than go to a networking meeting!
I fell in the middle – networking was tough to start with but after a few years (and successfully creating new relationships) I truly began to enjoy it. Now I no longer consciously network for business as after 16 years as a coach I find I have many treasured connections built up over this time. Many WorkStyle by design readers are part of my network and I thank you for staying with me over some turbulent times including both the GFC, the breakdown of my first marriage, and a number of physical moves.
Now I’m consciously networking on the personal front. Having moved to a new area four years ago I have found it hard to make personal/social connections of my own. Don’s friends have been wonderful by including me, as has Don himself, but I want and need my own local friends and it has taken quite a while to find some.
Initially I joined the Bridge Club as I suspected (rightly) that I would love the challenge and strategy of Bridge. What I didn’t count on was that I was 20+ years younger than the majority of members. I nearly joined the Tennis Club but pulled out at the last minute as I am already a member of a tennis club in Melbourne, and I don’t really have much in common with the women playing there. Plus my fitness was compromised as I recovered from influenza.
I tried to find a Book Club but unfortunately the ones I came across were all fully subscribed. I considered a virtual Book Club but that would not meet my purpose of connecting with real locals.
I have toyed with the local Gardening Club but again, many members are much older than me – so I’m keeping this one up my sleeve.
The good news is that I have joined the local Film Club. You know… movies/cinema/film. Having a film to focus on at each meeting keeps us connected and gradually I’m getting to know the members as their personalities emerge during these discussions. We learn from each other and my appreciation for the film/filmmakers/actors/crew/executives grows (mostly!!). Here in the Victorian Central Highlands winter is long cold and wet, so having an indoor activity is perfect. So far so good. In fact, given the venue where we used to meet was no longer available, we now meet at my home. It’s a win:win. I get to show off my beautiful new home and garden and we all get to relax in a comfortable setting with no distractions.
What I’ve learned is that perseverance pays off. It seems like it has taken ages but in reality it has only been a few years. Business networking was much faster for me. I wonder why? This is a question I’ll ponder with my own coach!