|From Flickr user Kevin Shorter.|
Yes, painful as it can be, you need to network!
You need some people to keep you sane, keep you inspired, and keep you on your toes.
I know how hard this can be - I am super-introverted myself. Large groups of new people exhaust me, but I promised myself that this year I would do more in-person networking anyhow.
I found out something really important when I began this exercise - if I have a small group of people where I can connect with each person authentically, my shyness disappears, and I'm able to offer value, and get something valuable from my networking experiences.
So how am I doing this? One thing at a time...
1) I looked at networks to which I already belong. I offered to plan some events for a book club I belong to through meetup.com. This seems like a pretty safe way to get to know the people in my club a bit better.
2) I'm keeping in touch with some old coworkers with monthly dinners to keep up on how people are doing personally, and professionally.
3) I'm meeting new people in my field on Twitter and LinkedIn, and I recently had dinner with one of them, which was lovely. Through that dinner, I've been invited to a lunch next month, which will be a slightly bigger, though still manageable gathering.
4) I am NOT attending large network events at bars that have 300 people at them. I know I won't get the value I need out of those experiences. They're designed for extroverts and I'm sure extroverted people have a great time at them.
5) I know myself and I use that knowledge to find the right networking moves for me. I know I'm best meeting people a few at a time, when I can really engage with each one of them. In this way, I can widen my circle gradually, but authentically. These new connections have given me great input, ideas, and inspiration.
What are your networking moves? I'd love to meet you so let's connect!