Networking is hard enough without being in the wrong room. Choosing the right organizations, where you have the best chance of feeling comfortable, showing up and meeting great people is key. Some great tips come from Jill Walser in an article titled “How I Overcame My Aversion to Networking and Learned to Love It”:
I initially looked at about eight different options and decided that the organizations I chose needed to meet four criteria:
1. They needed to be relevant to what I did.
2. They needed to have a face-to-face component and the people there needed to be happy to see me.
3. They needed to be filled with spark plugs – people very excited to be there and to be doing what they did for a living.
4. They needed to be easy to get to and offered at convenient times.
And to make it fun, try Ilise Benun’s tip:
You can even use [your nametag] to ask a question about a resource you need (“Know any good designers?”) Make it funny or unusual. Others will notice and see it as an invitation into conversation.
From her excellent article “How Not To Network”. Scroll down and read all the comments, there are some great ideas.
“I’m that woman at the networking meeting having one more cup of coffee just to have something to do (and trust me, more caffeine doesn’t improve the situation). As a business owner, I knew I couldn’t go on like this. I had to do something to grow my circle, and I wanted to do it in a way that was authentic and that felt good.”
There are so many great ideas for overcoming reluctance to get involved. Try some of these and see if there is a gem in there for you.