Coming back from a networking event, I felt the need to write down my thoughts on how that went.
Imagine you went to that event and didn’t have time to eat before. Imagine there was a panel of experts talking about a topic you’re interested in right before the networking starts. Imagine that when the panel session ends, you’re so hungry that all you want to do is go home, eat and relax. Only that you found some of the panel speakers really interesting and want to talk to them. Imagine you get out of the panel room into the hallway where the networking is going to take place. And it smells like pizza. And everyone is lining up for the pizza. And so do you. Only that, at some point before you reach the pizza slice, that person you wanted to talk to and give your business card to shows up and other people start to approach her. Not too many, because almost everyone is lining up for that pizza. And then it strikes you: better talk to her now, before everyone else and before any food gets stuck in between my teeth. And so that’s it.
Networking is choosing between eating that slice of pizza you’re lining up for and talking to the person you want to leave your card with; it’s feeling like leaving once the panel is over, but kicking yourself in the butt to stay and do some proper talking with the persons you want to approach.
Yes, I left the pizza line (not effortlessly at all) and went straight to her. It took me 10 minutes to open my mouth and give her and another woman who approached her my card. Eventually, I did, and also found out networking takes about five minutes. I’d been there for about 7 and it was awkward, I could feel I was a third wheel already. You’re not there to share experiences with a support group, you ask a question, say something about what you do and you leave.
So I left. With a slight feeling of accomplishment for pushing myself again to stay and not leave. For doing what I wanted to do and came to do, in spite of myself and in spite of my fear of doing that, of exposing myself again, of doing something I don’t regularly do but of which I dream of doing when I imagine myself to be this bad-ass entrepreneur.
By the way, writing impressions like this on a subway right after the event can also mean forgetting to get down where you’re supposed to. So now I am three stations away from where I was supposed to be getting down, on my way back there. Frustrating, but genuinely entrepreneurial.