How i learned to love networking.

Networking? What? No way, never in a million years! I’d rather clean toilets…

So, for those of you that don’t know me (and know me). I was incredibly shy – however, I’ve worked on shyness over the years by putting myself in uncomfortable social situations. In my teenage years and early 20s I’ve worked customer service jobs and hospitality jobs because I knew I wanted to get better at talking to people. I’ll never forget pushing my restaurant manager to make me a bartender, because I needed the challenge of talking to people.

But the time came when I needed to start looking for a new job. I wanted something more, but I just didn’t know what. That’s when my dad mentioned that I should start networking.

“What? Networking? No way will I ever be able to do this! Getting coffee with people, talking to them? No way!!!”. I remember being so overwhelmed with this idea, and thinking that I would not be able to do this. Something about reaching out to people and meeting up with them and asking them questions and talking to them was incredibly intimidating. I couldn’t even imagine myself doing this. It was way too scary. I would much rather stay at my job that I was clearly unhappy at… or clean toilets.

But then I hit that point of my serving career that I couldn’t bear anymore. There was no chance I would do this forever, and I needed something more. So, I got in touch with a few people. I started small, people that my dad knew. Then I kept going. I started talking to people on LinkedIn, people that I didn’t even know. These people helped me figure out that I wanted to go into advertising, and if I didn’t make a small move I wouldn’t have built the courage to reach out to them.

Fast forward a few years. Since then I’ve been meeting with people, grabbing coffees, going in for portfolio reviews, informational interviews and even real interviews. Of course, many of them were still intimidating, and I definitely think I’ve messed up a few with being too nervous. I’ll still have those nervous meetings from time to time, especially when I stumble on my words or forget a question (or ask a question that is way too broad…).

But with each face-to-face meeting, I’ve gotten better at it. This is a big thing for a former shy person to say (who am I kidding… I still am shy… but I fight it pretty hard!).

Never would I thought that in a few years’ time I would be reaching out to people and networking with a sense of each. This time 3 years ago, I would have not believed it.

If it seems overwhelming at first and you can’t seem to get past it, start small. You don’t have to see the peak of the mountain, you just have to see the first few feet. You being intimidated by something that you cannot perceive yourself doing may hinder you from taking action.

That’s why I believe it’s so important to start small.

And honestly, at this point. I love meeting with people and learning something new. I hope one day you will too!

Now get networking:)