Thursday, March 31, 2011

networking; a breeze for the "new kid"

When I was growing up we moved 15 times in 16 years, and no my father was not in the military. (it's a long boring story.) We lived in 7 different states. Twice we moved in the middle of a school year. Once we moved while I was at camp; I left for camp from our house in Pittsburgh and came "home" to a house in Birmingham Michigan.
You might think all that moving was a burden; it certainly was to our mother, who bore it all with calm and grace. For us, it was normal and,to us, exciting. As my mom unpacked moving boxes she would send me and my younger sister and brother out into the neighborhood to find kids our age to play with. I was the spokesperson, but all three of us became adept at meeting and getting to know people, over and over and over.
Flash forward a few (ahem) decades, and the three of us are grown (double ahem) and in the business world. For us, networking is alot like being the new kid. We are accustomed to walking into a room full of people we don't know. We learned very early on the importance of observing, asking questions, really listening to the answers, getting to know just a few people at first, and then building out from there.
In many ways, people are people be they 5 or 45. We all feel a little intimidated being the "new kid". But if we allow ourselves we can feel the excitement of meeting and forming relationships with new people; hearing their stories and learning about their lives. Letting them know about us and sharing our experiences.
One thing the three of us knew; friendships didn't happen overnight. They took time and energy, and lots and lots of paying attention. The same is true of successful networking. The good news is, now the three of us (although spread out over the country) have stayed put. As adults we've had the great gift of creating and nurturing relationships that will last a lifetime. Although, as eager networkers, we still get that "new kid" experience again and again.

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