I was surrounded by strangers the last time I went to a networking event in a hotel as a guest, and I didn’t know anyone there. Some people appeared to know one another and continued to chat, while others stood around playing with their phones. My intention in attending the event was to meet new people and extend my social circle. Instead of attempting to approach people, I sat in the corner, distant and quiet. A couple sat next to me later, and I felt both excited and relaxed. Perhaps I should introduce myself and strike up a conversation with them. But, because I didn’t know what to say, I remained silent, thinking about initiating the conversation. The longer I stayed quiet, the more difficult it was to start the engine of networking, and the longer I waited, the more anxious and socially awkward I became. Time seemed to have slowed to a halt.
Finally, a speaker took the stage and ushered everyone back to their seats. Later on, when it’s time for a break, people regrouped into small groups and continued to talk with one another, and I didn’t know how to enter into their conversation. Listening to people, stalking them, and talking about other issues, such as the weather, would sound weird.
In retrospect, I may have approached the people with a different perspective. I have no reason to be terrified. Everyone was there, after all, to make friends and bond. It isn’t just about me. It concerns everyone. It’s not about me attempting to broaden my social circle; it’s about the ideals I could bring to the engagement. It wouldn’t be worth having a conversation if I didn’t want anything from them and they didn’t want anything from me at the same time. A conversation began because we shared certain ideas, whether it was a piece of interesting news or praise that made us happy. By keeping that person’s dilemma in mind, I was able to recommend a solution. We could all benefit from the chat if we were polite and approachable because others may attend the networking event for the same reason I did, which is to network. Worst-case scenario: I’m rejected and lose face as a result of the talk. It’s okay; after all, they didn’t know who I was, and I didn’t know who they were. No one suffered; it was an unpleasant experience. Approaching others entails taking a risk. I might run into a nasty individual and have a bad chat, but the benefits of taking this calculated risk are limitless. I may learn something new from them, make new acquaintances, and, coincidentally, advance my profession. Serendipity is the term for this unexpected event.
If I don’t feel confident approaching a larger group, I can attempt approaching individuals one at a time to address my weakness. To use an analogy, jumping into the water is the only way to learn to swim. I could read all of the best books on approaching individuals to network, but without practice, I wouldn’t be able to do it naturally. As a result, we began learning to swim in a pool with a safety net. In a similar vein, I may approach others in a very relaxed setting. The more people I meet, the more confident I am in my social skills. I am more likely to crack a joke, engage in a deep conversation, and form a genuine connection rather than just talking about the weather and generating a socially awkward vibe. I need to let go of my excessive self-awareness and focus on others. I become a better listener when I shift my emphasis away from myself and demonstrate an interest in others. I might inspire, engage, and connect with the individual I approach by actively listening and imparting ideas to them. I could make a difference in the world, one individual at a time.