Sherry and I got a nice little holiday notice in the American University Alumni Update for a networking breakfast we headlined back in November. It was flattering to be invited back to our shared alma mater (MA for me, BA for Sherry), much as it was for me to be invited back to Notre Dame, my undergrad alma mater. It was also slightly ironical to be invited to speak at a networking event, since I’ve historically been horrible at navigating networking events.
Here’s what gets me: even though I’m (at least I think) a social and extroverted person, when I find myself at a networking event, I pull a Benjamin Button and actually revert to the awkward, gangly, socially-inept version of myself from junior high and most of high school. Who do I approach? What do I say? Where do I stand? What should I do with my hands? The situation seems to play out like this: 1) I choose a networking event; 2) I go to said networking event; 3) I walk into the room said networking event is being held in; 4) I think to myself, ‘What the crap do I do now? ‘
And this AU networking event was no different. I thought I would feel different being one of the “featured” networkers in the room. This was not the case. I was as awkward and ungainly as I ever. Even so, I managed to follow the advice so often given to introverted networkers: suck it up and do it.