For those who know me now, you can probably not even imagine how challenging and (almost) painful it was for me to start networking. It was 2014 and I knew that if I wanted to build my business, I had to start somewhere. I still remember my first event - an after-hours event with FUEL Milwaukee. I walked in to a buzz of excitement, thinking everyone knew each other and I was just going to be alone. The thought of diving into the buzzing hive was daunting, intimidating and downright scary - I am an introvert.
I was more of an observer. I loved to watch people. To listen rather than speak. I was the classic introvert on the outer rim of the room trying to find a safe way to enter the hive.
Rather than dive right in, I decided to work the wall...
I started networking with the others like me who were forming an outer circle watching the action from a safe distance. They were easy to talk to because we could relate to each other about how we couldn't just walk up and enter those conversations. So we created our own connections on the outside. It worked!
The people on the outside might be first-timers at an event. They might be new to the area. They might not have networked in a long time. They may not know where to start, and they are really safe! It was an easy way for me to build my confidence and momentum. I practiced my elevator pitch. I had some time to process and evaluate before chatting with the next person.
The process of working the wall has served me well. I have challenged myself to jump into the hive at some point during each event, but there are plenty of quality connections along the outside. If you are nervous about networking, consider the approach of working the wall. You will gain confidence, make connections, and grow yourself and your business. What are you waiting for?