Networking like nature
or how the forgotten power of intuition can lead to the most meaningful connections – and even new clients
So, last week we held our first Elevate in-person session; and yes, we embraced the #awks and dove straight into the ever-icky topic of networking! Welcome back from two years of isolation friends, now: go talk to people you don’t know. Well, not to go all ‘spoiler alert’ on you, but we did a wee test on the night of an alternative way to network and it seems to have gone down well. I shall tell you all.
I too used to tie myself in knots over networking. I say ‘too’, because I sort of assume that networking is ‘not your bag’. Networking is never anyone’s favourite activity as far as my experience to date has shown. The stakes feel too high, the odds of ‘success’ too low, the beer too warm, and the person you get stuck speaking to… too not interesting. Plus which, you have to tell other people about your brilliant business idea and therefore risk simultaneously finding out that it’s not as brilliant as it sounded in your head whilst potentially giving away your best secrets to strangers. These things are of course mostly nonsense, but our brains exaggerate the potential risks to protect us from, well, ‘failure’.
Brains. Extraordinary, evolutionary miracles that all too often kind of get in the way. Hands up who is a culprit of over-thinking? Hands up also who comes up with too many ideas to ever actually make possible? Middle-of-the-night worriers? Yes I thought so. Good old, annoying old brains working overtime all the time. And networking events can set them right off. We start asking ourselves: who might be there, how do I get to speak to them, will they give me a cheque straight away or will that be something we have to do by BACS these days, what if I say something stupid, what if I fall over, what if no-one likes me and it turns out I’m a fraud and I never should have started a business anyway (and so on). We’re tangled up in maybes and what ifs and and shoulds and it’s a bit stressful and maybe not that helpful.
I’ve been there. But, over the years, I’ve come up with a networking hack that makes it all a bit less uncomfortable. Forget the big funder, potential investor, important person that you need to impress… and ask yourself one small question: who feels like the most interesting person in the room to you? Is there anyone in the space that draws your attention, who’s face makes you smile? Yes? Well, go talk to them. Don’t know who they are or why they’re there? Chances are your intuition (the silent part of your brain and the even silenter part of your gut) has got your back. They’re just waiting for you to notice.
We forget that we are intuitive creatures. We are living beings of feeling and knowing, sensitive to a myriad of cues that our conscious minds barely even notice. When we give ourselves a moment to tune in to ourselves and our bodies, something magic happens. We make room to hear that inner voice of knowing that we override all too often to our own regret. ‘I knew I should have <fill in the blank>.’ That same voice probably told us we should start our own business, quit what we were doing previously and change everything – that voice knows us well and can be pretty darn wise.
At last week’s networking event, I paused before sharing this titbit of information. I wondered if it would seem too ‘out there’. Which of course it’s not. It’s in fact vital to remember ourselves as intuitive, wise beings that contain all the wisdom we need to fulfil our purpose – just like a seed (with a brain). I mentioned it from the stage as a potential way of cutting through anxiety and starting wherever feels most comfortable or right. Speak to the person you are drawn to.
Yesterday someone who attended that event told me that he was approached on the night by at least two people who had spoken to him thanks to following their intuition. Not only that, but he is now working with one of them as a result. What a turn up for my theory! I’ve used this approach for years and have found collaborators and business leads and often friends. If you’re fearful of networking, I recommend it.