Networking for People Who Hate Networking

Michelle TauteI’d rather scrub down every inch of my bathrooms than spend a couple of hours making small talk with a room full of people I don’t know. And for a long time this brought on a great deal of self-employment guilt and panic: But I need to be networking!

Then one afternoon it hit me. I network all the time—just not in the most traditional ways.  I’ve made professional contacts on the sand volleyball court, at book club and even doing down dog at yoga. And most of the teams in my kickball league are made up of graphic designers.

It’s easier to make meaningful connections when you’re happy, relaxed and engaged. So I made a deal with myself: I’d continue to pursue all the things I love outside of work. And look for one business event each month that actually made me excited to attend.

Do you have a non-traditional approach to networking? What’s the oddest place you made a great connection?

BTW: How many and what type of networking events should you be looking for? Get that question answered in the free webcast on November 1: Start NOW: Your 2011 Marketing Plan. Sign up here (even if you can’t listen live — you’ll get the recorded version).

4 thoughts on “Networking for People Who Hate Networking

  1. lidia varesco design

    I agree with the non-traditional networking approach. I once got a referral through an Etsy crafter group and it turned out to be a great long-term client.

    I host networking events in Chicago, so I’m pretty comfortable with the process, but I feel that you have to approach it without expectations and with the mindset of creating relationships — not necessarily finding a job (which may take months or even years). I’ve also made great friends and personal connections while networking, including my wedding planner and the company that hosts my website.

  2. Michelle Taute

    Great points, Lidia. Especially the one about not having expectations for what you’ll accomplish at a networking event.

    It’s always amazing what can pay off months or years down the road. Recently, I received a referral from someone I met randomly at brunch a couple years ago.

  3. Jodi Womack

    Hi Michelle,
    I LOVE this. I actually started the No More Nylons events because I feel allergic to traditional networking events with the elevator pitches and business card scramble. I’m almost 2 years into doing these free Women’s Business Socials that are more like cocktail parties than detention. “Snooty Ladies Not Allowed…” is the tagline. And I think by setting the expectations in advance and making it a comfortable, informal and awesome gathering of women in business, it’s not only painless… but something to look forward to. If you’re ever near Ojai, California, you’re invited!
    PS I’m launching a Starter Kit to building your own Women’s Business Social on January 11, 2011, so my dream is that there’s a Social somewhere in your neighborhood someday soon.