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Taking the plunge in the networking pool

Posted by Ilise Benun on

I’m having the best time giving self-promotion workshops lately (and there are a couple more coming up, including a full day in NYC with me and Peleg on Pricing and Marketing on 10/12. Early bird discount ends 10/3.)

Last Thursday, I gave my "Self Promotion Online and Off" talk at the New York Public Library of Science, Industry and Business in Manhattan, which is a great resource for small business owners, especially these free programs organized by Jackie Gold that run pretty much year round.

I did a lot of interactive exercises with the group that night. (You know, where you have to talk to a stranger, which you dread before you do it but then once you’re in the conversation, it’s actually great. You may even meet a prospective client.)

Well, once this group got going, they could not stop networking, which really surprised me because when I walked into the room there was complete silence. No one was talking to anyone and almost everyone was sitting alone in a row or with a few chairs between them and the other person. (Maybe this only happens in New York, but I doubt it.)

In fact, as soon as I was introduced, I asked the group, "Why were you all just sitting here in silence instead of taking advantage of the opportunity to meet a new person?"

Someone chimed in with "I’m shy." Another said, "I don’t want to be rejected" and, "Because it’s New York City." And then I heard someone say, "We were taking advantage of the silence," which makes sense, because there isn’t much quiet time to be had, it’s true.

But still, this is very common. Not many of us are in the habit of entering a room of strangers and talking to someone, but it’s a great habit to get into.

Good for business too. I’m living proof — those of you who know me know that I’ll talk to almost anyone about almost anything.

Do you have any hints about how to make it easier? How to make it a habit?

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