I went to two events this weekend, both excellent networking opportunities where I could meet new people and talk writing. Unfortunately I have discovered I am truly hopeless at networking. It’s really scary walking up to a complete stranger, or indeed a group of people already talking and introduce yourself. The risk of rejection is quite high and it’s enough to make me cringe.
The first event shouldn’t have been so bad. It was the launch of the Rockingham Writers Centre and the whole point of it was for writers to meet one another. I’m also on the organising committee so it should be easy-peasy right? Wrong. I looked around the room, saw everyone was already in groups and did that thing where you pretend you’re looking for someone. Then I escaped into the adjoining room which was an art gallery and looked at the gorgeous paintings for a while to avoid the whole situation. Finally I returned to the main room and the food had been delivered. Well that was the perfect opportunity. I grabbed a tray and took it around the room, offering people something to eat. It was the perfect excuse to interrupt a conversation and I did have some fabulous chats with people while providing them with refreshments.
I also had a few people come up and introduce themselves to me. Can I just say a huge THANK YOU! to those lovely women? It was extremely flattering that they wanted to hear about my writing experience and I hoped I was able to help them a little.
The second event of the weekend was a different type of affair. It was a women’s expo called Secrets in the Garden. I was interested in a number of the business workshops they were having and found many of the keynote speakers inspirational. In actual fact I had a couple of ideas for future heroines in my books!
So this set up was a little different. I went from workshop to workshop, but of course sat next to people. I always smiled and said hello, and while I often got a smile in return, there wasn’t really that option for further conversation. What do you think is the correct etiquette in this case? Say nothing else, or attempt further conversation like, “What are you hoping to get out of this workshop?” or “What is your business?” I’m afraid I fall into the former category – say nothing else and hope the workshop will hurry up and start. 🙂
I must admit it does bemuse me at times. If I’m in my comfort zone and know people, I’m confident and happy to go up to people and have a chat. But it’s that fear of the unknown that gets me every time.
So if you happen to see me at an event, PLEASE come up and say hello. You’ll be making my day! And if you have any suggestions on how to conquer this networking thing, please leave a comment below!