- I expanded my inner circle of friends to include people so amazing I often have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming. Seriously, I know some of the coolest people on the planet.
- You have heard the saying, “It’s not WHAT you know, but WHO you know.” Expanding my inner circle increased my circle of influence. Your circle of influence encompasses those concerns you can do something about, or concerns you have some control over. I now have greater control over a wider variety of things.
- I became brave enough to cut out the negative influences in my life and made room for people who have positive influence and positive energy. Energy is contagious, so surrounding myself with these people has made me a more positive person and, hopefully, more enjoyable to be around.
- Job Seeking can be one of the most stressful tasks a person must face in life, but once I expanded my network, job seeking became EASY. The last time I was in the job market, a couple of strategic posts to my network brought news of dozens of potential new positions. One which was already “filled” but with a call to someone in my network who knew someone at the company, I was able to secure a last minute interview … and then a job.
- New Opportunities started appearing. Once you put yourself out there, opportunities increase. But remember, if opportunity knocks, you can’t sit back and hope it walks in. You need to OPEN THE DOOR. In other words, you need to WORK at securing the opportunity for yourself.
- I improved my self-perception. Growing up I had low self-esteem and non-existent self-confidence, but there came a time when I had to sit down and take a long hard look at my opinion vs. reality. Too many people were telling me a different (and BETTER) story than I was telling myself. It was not an easy transition, but networking greatly improved my perception of myself.
- One of the greatest benefits of networking is that being “stuck” isn’t nearly as bad as it once was. If my boss gives assigns me a new task, I always say that if I can’t figure it out myself, there is someone in my network who can help me. Knowledge sharing is one of the greatest reasons to overcome your fear of networking.
- I love to help people. I’ve been trying to solve all of the world’s problems since I was old enough to walk. Expanding my network provides me more opportunities to experience the personal satisfaction I get when I’m able to help others.
There are numerous resources on how to improve networking skills. Some of my favorites are:
- The Fine Art of Small Talk by Debra Fine
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
- Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi
- How to Work a Room by Susan Roane
- Your Network is Your Net Worth by Porter Gale
The three pieces of advice which helped me most were:
- Have interesting facts prepared and rehearsed (see my blog on One Interesting Fact).
- If you are able to secure a list of attendees, do a little online research first to find common areas of interest. This makes it infinitely easier to strike up a conversation. If you don’t know who the attendees will be, read up on current events.
- Practice confident body language. Even if you don’t FEEL confident, you can LOOK confident. Be conscious of your posture, where you stand in the room and fidgeting.
If I can network, anyone can do it. I encourage my fellow introverts to take a few giant steps outside your comfort zone and see what great things might start happening for you.