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More thoughts on networking

Posted by Meg Bear on May 24, 2010


Figured it was time to give another update on my voyage of discovery as it relates to networking.

Some time ago, Amy arranged an opportunity to meet Jason Seiden during his stop over  through SFO.    Being the hanger-on that I am I asked her if I could meet him too.  As the logistics unfolded, it worked out that I would meet him for drinks and Amy would meet him for dinner.

When Jason arrived early, he sent me a message saying that he would meet me in the bar where he’d be making friends.  When I got there, that was exactly what he was doing!

There Jason was, chatting it up with some random guy, as if they were long lost buddies.  I made a comment that the whole ice breaking thing was very hard for me, and I couldn’t imagine doing that myself.

His reply really stuck with me.  He said “I used to have trouble with it, until I realized I was just being an A**hole“.

To this I responded [with what I considered a witty retort]  “I don’t think I’m an A**hole…. but maybe I’m wrong.”

and then the conversation moved on

As I have done more thinking about this, I realize there is a lot of truth to the idea that to effectively network you have to get over yourself. Making it the responsibility of the other person to break the ice is inherently arrogant.

This led me to the belief that, we need to get over our idea that we are center of the universe to make progress professionally.

Networking just happens to be one example.

What we are feeling inside is that we are not important or interesting enough to step outside our comfort zone and connect with others.

but

what we are really doing is suggesting that we are too important to bother taking the risk.

Having an honest intention, is really not the point.  The results are what matter and in this case, my results were a raft of missed opportunities.

Scary, powerful and actionable.

I am doing my best to learn that, moving forward professionally requires taking risks and challenging my perspective.    While I would not call myself an expert by any stretch, I can honestly say I’m making progress.

I no longer listen to that voice inside that tells me I have nothing of interest to say.  Instead, I listen to Jason’s voice in my head, that says quit being an A**hole Meg!

If nothing else it makes me smile, and since that is another goal I figure I’m ahead.

8 Responses to “More thoughts on networking”

  1. Louise Barnfield said

    omg, this is a classic!🙂 I feel like you just peered right into my soul! Spooky!
    I’ve been making an effort in this direction myself, and have a very positive experience to relate!
    At the PBWC anual conference a couple of weeks ago (at Chris Melching’s presentation in fact), I took the first step in breaking the ice with the women on either side of me immediately we sat down. That proved a huge benefit throughout her presentation, which was full of brief moments of interaction. The three of us didn’t have to waste time in pleasantries, so leapt straight into each discussion, and got more out of each, as a result. We exchanged cards, have exchanged a couple of emails and plan to keep in touch.
    But it goes further than that. We got talking about exercise and volunteering (go figure, following on from Angela’s post yesterday). I mentioned my involvement with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training, and all the benefits it offers.
    …Well, last Thursday I was running the new registration area at our Summar Kick Off event, and one of those two women signed up for her first (of many, I hope) TnT event.
    Knowing TnT, I’m convinced she will have a wonderfully positive and inspirational experience over the next few months, and she in turn will do her part in helping the society. Another win-win!…oh, and *I* too gained the pleasure of having been the go-between…only because I made the effort to make the first move!🙂

  2. Frannyo said

    My mom taught me a cool trick. She said you need to walk into every party, event, or conference as if you’re the hostess, and it’s your job to make everyone else feel comfortable. It totally works, in the sense that I’m not as aware of my own discomfort and, in making an effort to help strangers feel more comfortable/connected, I meet some really nice people.

    I actually got my current job through chatting with a guy at a public pool. But both of us could talk to a wall.

    • Meg Bear said

      Oh I love this! Thanks for sharing the tip, what a smart mom. I’m totally going to try it. I’ll keep you posted. – Meg

  3. Vivian Wong said

    Meg – I especially like what you said about “we need to get over our idea that we are center of the universe to make progress professionally.” Successful networking isn’t about “you”, it really is about “others”. Like everything else in life – one needs to have a goal and purpose to network with others, as well as understanding what you are good at. I find being interested in other people and see how I can be helpful to them makes networking more fun.

  4. Great insights, Meg! A quick story to share about Jason… I was having lunch with him and a colleague, and during the lunch I unknowingly ended up with some “schmutz” on my chin. Instead of ignoring it, he politely pointed it out, letting me know that he would be letting me down if he did not say anything.

    He’s got a great perspective on interacting with others!

  5. He sounds so nice… great insights!

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