Last night I pushed myself from my comfort zone into something I had never done before. I attended my first networking event. I was surprised by how nervous I was about it. I remember as a child assuming that all adults were cool, calm and collected. As a parent I feel I have to be, that I need to have it together at all times. I had seen lots of these events pop up on Facebook and would make a note of the date and time but then as it neared found a reason not to go. Usually the reason was simply that I would prefer to stay home. But in truth I felt like I wasn’t ready. I felt my business had to reach a certain level before I could attend.
But this year I am pushing my boundaries like I never have before. I bought a ticket. Paying for a ticket should motivate me, but of course when you have a child you start to get used to paying money for nothing. Like perfectly good food that gets thrown on the floor without a bite and subsequently thrown in the bin. Or a toy that your child is determined to break as part of his discovery of how it works. Broken beyond the repair ability of either parent, that gets thrown in the bin. And the clothes that end up with paint stains all over them, even though the paints clearly state “washable” on them. Maybe they mean skin washable and not cotton washable. Of course I don’t throw those clothes out. They get kept for staying at home days. But they don’t make for very good Instagram photos so they actually end up pushed to the back of the drawer and thrown out when I go purge all the clothes that no longer fit after yet another growth spurt.
The day before the event an email was sent confirming details and reminding everyone to bring business cards. I don’t have those just yet, I am still ‘consulting’ with the designer about the multitude shades of teal available and reviewing which micro-shade I like best. I could have backed out then. I could have said, can’t do it, don’t have cards. But I did have a pdf of the latest design which was very close to what I wanted. So I could send that to anyone who asked for one. Another excuse gone.
My friend messaged me, telling me she was going (woohoo she came through) and did I want to go in with her? Yes please. How much easier that makes it. It probably shaved the nerves off a little and I am so grateful to her for reaching out. We met in the carpark and walked in together. Frankly I have no idea what I was worried about. Everyone was so lovely and friendly and welcoming. There were drinks so nothing like some bubbles to ease the remaining nerves. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting, but I realised I need to work on my networking skills. Of course the point is to meet like minded women and promote yourself and what you do. Yet as a life coach I listen to people and ask them what they do. That is how I am trained. I am curious and like to listen and some of these women seemed to be doing some fascinating stuff that I kept asking them questions on it. But it’s a learning experience. I’ve done it now. I know how it goes and now that there is a sense of familiar, I can go again with much more confidence and be more prepared to talk about what I do. I will see some familiar faces, and thank goodness there are name badges so I can smile and use someone’s name. And I have just told the designer I am happy with the last draft she sent me so off to the printers now and next time I will business cards, plus my elevator pitch. Fear conquered one, comfort zone zero.