Since starting my business several months ago I have discovered several things about myself. It certainly has been a been a journey, that's for sure! But the journey's not even close to being over. I'm just a baby still and really just learning to walk. There's still so much to learn!
But one thing I definitely have learned is that I AM A NETWORKER! I absolutely LOVE it! When I come back from networking events, or get off of the phone with someone, or meet up with a person for coffee to talk about my business or theirs, I feel completely invigorated! I feel like a duck in water. It's just so much fun for me!
I started reflecting on why this is and started looking back at just who I am. And "who I am" is a people person. I always have been. I remember purposing in my heart to be the friendliest person I knew the summer before I went into high school. Sure I was young, but I knew that I had been an unhappy, unpopular middle schooler. One reason was because I had spent the past 9 years of my life with the same 25 people and was just tired of them I think! (haha) But stepping into a new environment with all new people and teachers was just thrilling to me! I decided that I was going to smile at people, that I was going to speak to others before they spoke to me and that I was going to be a positive, happy person that people wanted to be around (all suggestions I gotten from an article in YM magazine at the time! LOL...I still remember that! Wow!). And I did just that from day one and it worked. I was known as a happy, friendly, sweet person who wasn't out for popularity but just cared about people. But others in younger grades saw me as popular. I know that because my husband, who is was one grade younger than me thought I was pretty popular. When he and I started going out he told me that he had a friend say, "You're going out with THE Angie Blackburn?" He certainly felt pretty good about himself after that! I never thought of myself as uber popular, I just remember having a lot of good relationships with people. And I've carried that way of thinking into adulthood.
I'm one of those people who can walk into a room, sit next to a complete stranger and strike up a conversation and leave having made a new friend. I am very social that way. I'm more comfortable mingling than I am sitting in the corner. I would rather be hobnobbing with those I don't know than hang out in a little clique of those that I know well. I'm not sure where that kind of confidence comes from? But I think if we look at at being social more from the other person's perspective, more of us might try it. I mean, I'm not particularly confident, but I believe that people are just worth getting to know. We won't "click" with every single person we come in contact with and have a connection, but if and when we do, it could lead to a new friendship or a new contact. But isn't it at least worth the effort?
I don't focus so much on how uncomfortable I am, but how nice it's going to be when I break the ice with some genuine interest in that person. I may start off by commenting on something they're wearing or their jewelry. If they have kids running around, I may start chatting about that and mention that I too have a child. Finding something in common with another human being is really quite easy (duh). Is everyone friendly? No way! Of course not. But like I said, I talk to them because they are worth knowing, not because or contingent upon whether or not they are nice to me.
I was also thinking about how as bloggers we do this very thing. We read a blog, latch onto something about that person that we can relate to, comment on what they talked about and they in turn (usually) do the same. And what happens? We develop a relationship. But that relationship would never have been fostered if you didn't FIRST put yourself out there to comment. It's like extending your hand for a hand shake. You extend your hand, they take it and you mutually agree on something. But you had to put it out there, right?
So it's no wonder I love blogging...it's NETWORKING! Not in a shallow way. I sometimes think that word has some negativity attached to it. Maybe you imagine a polished looking salesman with his big Rolex on "workin' a room" talking about himself and what he has to offer! Yeah...that's just gross! But networking is just simply about building relationships and it's about giving, not getting. There's a big difference in "workin' a room" to see what you can get from the group, whether it be new business, contacts, business cards, names, phone numbers, etc. than being a networker. A good networker speaks to one or two people in the room, mostly listens and only talks about him/herself when asked. And even then, very little. They are more about getting to know that person and making a real connection that will last. And that's what I'm all about. Making connections and building relationships. So me and network marketing go together like chocolate and peanut butter! (mmm, that sounds good right about now) I want to do this the rest of my life!