I hate, abhor, and despise attending anything that is labeled as a networking event.
People only seem to talk about what they “do”, in other words, their work. There doesn’t seem to be room for learning more about the person; for making a real connection.
Yet, what is the purpose of these networking events? To connect with people for work purposes.
- Will you buy my wares?
- Will you connect me to someone who will buy my wares.
So I think they’re operating just the way they’re supposed to. And I loathe it.
Many people would say my loathing of networking events is resistance (actually I would too). But there’s a very good chance they would also add that this means I’m at my edge, on the verge of breaking through to something very important for me.
Before today, I would have sighed and agreed and forced myself to go to networking meetings. This is my edge right?
Wrong. One size does not fit all.
In my Soul Caller’s group, there’s been a discussion about resistance and edges and pushing through the fear.
One of the wonderful members of this group posted this passage from The War of Art by Stephen Pressfield.
“Resistance is experienced as fear; the degree of fear equates to strength of resistance. Therefore, the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us.”
Pressfield’s passage made me realize that my resistance to networking functions is not based in fear. Granted I always have some butterflies in my stomach when it’s a new group, but that’s normal when entering a new situation. It’s butterflies, not gut wrenching fear.
I’m merely resisting what doesn’t work for me. I rarely get work from those situations. It feels false. Often the people there aren’t “my” people. You can call this rationalization on my part. You can call it denial. But geez-louise if I don’t know myself and start listening to myself now, I’ll die living a business model that others want me to live, not my model.
And my model does involve meeting people. Lots of people. The people that volunteer for the causes I believe in. When I was on the Board of Casa Guadalupe I made strong contacts with people from many businesses and organizations.
When I volunteered for hospice, the other volunteers and staff connected me to many other people with whom I could network.
When I volunteered at the local NPR station, I made valuable contacts.
At all these places I also made friends. The people I volunteered with saw the type of person I was and my work ethic better than anyone ever did at a Chamber of Commerce breakfast.
I’m a chit chatter. It comes naturally. An elevator speech at a so-called networking event does not come naturally.
Since I moved to Arlington, VA I made a friend and good contact at a Zumba class.
A woman standing outside Harris Teeter’s asked me if I was registered to vote. My registration is still in Pennsylvania so I took the opportunity to register in VA and, of course, chit-chat. I have her phone number and an invitation to go walking. She’s lived in the area for twenty years. I might have made a friend and some good contacts.
I also attend Guerilla Mentoring events with The Hot Momma’s Project at George Washington University. I learn a lot there and make contacts without having to give an elevator speech.
I don’t need to become excellent at elevator speeches just because they’re hard for me or I get nervous (fear) about them. It’s like saying a kid who’s poor at Math but strong in English should pursue Math as her major rather than English because that’s where she needs to get stronger. Or she should pursue it because her math anxiety is an edge for her. Poppycock.
What Energizes You & What Saps Your Energy
Resistance and fear can teach us a lot about ourselves.
Overcoming fear and stretching beyond your comfort zone is an important part of our growth. But you can be discerning about what resistance and/or fears you take on.
Pay attention to your energy level related to the things you resist. (This can be tricky because resistance can come in the form of tiredness. Our brain is a powerful protector of the status quo.)
Do the things you resist – for example in my case networking events – drain you after you do them or energize you?
I know I’m energized and proud of myself when I overcome a fear that is impeding my life. But I do not feel energized after a networking event, in fact I often feel drained.
Think of 3 things you’ve done that you initially resisted, which ultimately energized you and made you feel happy. How can you expand on these wins for your continual growth? Pay attention to these clues for identifying and accomplishing what you really desire.
Now think of 3 things you’ve done that you initially resisted, which continue to drain you and make you feel unhappy. Drop ‘em. They’re not for you. For example, if blogging continues to drain you and not make you happy, find some other way to reach your audience. And ask yourself in a quiet moment, after several deep cleansing breaths, if writing really is the dream you want to pursue.
What is your resistance and energy level telling you? I’d like to hear about it.