Networking: Why Won’t the Cool Kids Sit with Me?
I am still relatively a newbie in the wedding industry and I’m finding it hard to break into the circles of ‘clicks’ with some local wedding vendors. I’m feeling like this is high school again and the cool kids won’t let me sit at their table during lunch hour. What tips do you have to overcome my shyness and break out with some meaningful networking?
Thanks in advance,
The Odd One Out.
Dear Odd One Out,
Been there, felt like that. Isn’t it strange how high school feels like a never-ending microcosm? But later in life it feels worse because we don’t even get prom. I’ve gone to events where the cool kids saw me approaching their circle and–literally–shifted their bodies to close me out and pretend I wasn’t there. Talk about humiliating!
I’ve been raised to believe that if people don’t want to get to know you, they won’t. Beyond networking (which I don’t believe works well for shy people like us), the best thing you can do is make them want to get to know you. How does this happen? Well, it looks different for everyone, but here’s a few tips…
1. Follow via Social Media
If you want to get to know someone better, social media has changed the game. People share personal updates sometimes everyday, so it’s a great way to find how to connect with a person on a deeper level. Interact with those you want to get to know as often as possible, so if you have the chance to meet later (say, at a networking event), there’s a chance they might remember you. Engaging with online conversations is a great way to kindle a conversation fire.
2. Find Ways to Help
Once you’ve followed someone on social media, find ways to meet their needs, spoken and unspoken. For example, if a person asks for a book recommendation, respond. If you read a great article you think someone might like, share it. If someone says they’re creating a new website, offer to shoot new head shots for their bio section (sure, they didn’t ask for head shots, but you can anticipate their unspoken needs and later connect on a real level). If a person got a new puppy for Christmas, send a link to your favorite leash…or better yet, send the leash as a gift to them. Helping someone is far more powerful than simply trying to network with them.
3. Make Your Own Cool Kids Table
If people continue to marginalize you at networking events, forget them! Don’t try to get others interested in you if they’re treating you like you don’t matter. If/when this happens, find two non-cool-kids to connect with..I’m a big fan of finding the other “loners” at the networking party. You’d be surprised to find that together you may have the opportunity to push your businesses father, together, than you would on your own. Better yet, become the all-inclusive clique, warmly inviting in anyone who wants to connect with you. Soon your circle will grow and you’ll have created your own cool kids table (just without the attitude).
Oh, sweet Odd One Out, don’t let the actions of others determine how you feel about yourself. It’s hard not to, but if you continue to hold your head high, you’ll meet amazing people along the way who want to connect with you. Amazing, sweet you.
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