Out of your comfort zone, no excuses.Posted: July 16, 2009
I just came back from a networking mixer at Imperia, put on by the Austin Young Chamber of Commerce. The event itself is only to put this post in context. What I really want to discuss is the apprehension of going to these type of events on your own. It’s nerve racking. It’s like being dropped behind enemy lines with a mission without any support (note: possibly watching to much of The Unit on CBS).
Technically I was not alone. A friend had sent me the link about the event and I then posed the usual question one gives when informed about social type events, “are you going?” It should be presumed that the person telling you about the event is going, but our psyches need actual confirmation to weigh in factoring whether to go or not.
It’s kind of crazy. On one hand you know the event could be fun and beneficial socially and/or professionally, but on the other the fact that you must find this out for yourself, alone, is enough to deter most people (I’ve been there before).
For this event I was confirming that my friend would be there while pulling out of my drive-way. God-forbid I show up and no one I know be there. Then I’m THAT guy, looking around aimlessly, checking my iPhone periodically for texts that aren’t there (you know what I mean).
Anyways I arrived and met up with my friend (social anchor, check), then preceded to the bar. Because of the crowds it took a bit, and by the time I got my drink, or shortly after, my friend told me she was leaving (it was pretty hot and crowded, so no fault to her). Then and there my brain started weighing the options. I had just started a conversation, so I felt safe for the moment, but what next? But quickly I decided to hell with that and to just go with the flow.
This is networking at it’s best to me. While I definitely prefer third party introductions, being able to operate in an environment solo is a skill-set every professional should have. In fact, going alone to events should be viewed as networking scrimmages. That is generally how I get over the apprehensive events. In this case what am I practicing for? The occasion when an event arises that can seriously impact my career.
The question one should ask when feeling iffy about going to events your friends may not be attending is, what excuse do I have for not going? Then in answering that question, barring a high cost, time conflict, or related matter, there should be no excuse. That is to say FEAR IS NOT AN EXCUSE. Fear is a hindrance to life opportunities. It is a survival mechanism often that does not know it’s place, especially in the modern professional world.
Thus as I continue to connect in Austin, if fear of going alone to an event is my only excuse then I have no reason NOT to go.