I’m trying to figure out how to write this without sounding like a loser, but I think that a lot of my readers will relate to this. Just some personal experiences…
The first network meeting I went to was like the one I went to last night, and each one in-between. I drive to the event with a billion things on my mind (and a little guilt for doing it during family time (as many of these events are after hours, so I miss dinner, etc.). Once I find a parking space I begin to think
What am I doing here?? I don’t need to be here. I’m not going to help anyone, and no one will really be interested in what I do!
And this doubt that creeps in makes me feel a little anxious about going into a room full of people that I don’t know. I know that I’m not there for the *great* catered food, or to talk with people that I may know already and have an established relationship. I have a purpose, and that is to develop some new relationships (I can strengthen the current relationships quickly and then do it in a different setting later). I’m working on getting breadth or depth in my network!
But initially, as I go through the doors, I feel very inadequate. And I am not lacking in experience, education or even cool stuff to talk about. I’m not someone that you would consider “shy.” But I feel inadequate.
I am guessing that I’m not the only one that wonders why they are there, or if it is worth their time (before they go in). But I’ll tell you this, of the dozens and dozens of events that I’ve been to since I got laid off, there were only two that I won’t go to again, and those were low-end job fairs. There was a lot of hype around the fairs but the quality of people there was lower than I expected, and I won’t be going back.
Every other networking event that I’ve gone to has been excellent. Not because the organizers have coordinated such a great environment (which helps a ton) but because once I did go through the doors … here’s the secret … I was myself. And I met new, cool people. And that has led to some lunches, and deeper relationships.
Last night someone I admire and respect a lot was chatting with someone, and he saw me and said “hey, here’s my good friend Jason.” That is how it happens. You’re there to become good friends with people. And those people will introduce you to their circle of good friends.
I guess being nervous is natural, but don’t let that deter you from going in and meeting new people. Whether you are a working professional or not, these relationships can contribute to your career, and should contribute to your personal happiness.
Next time you are feeling inadequate, remember that you aren’t the only one, and GO ANYWAY.