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Being an Accidental Networker

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Being an Accidental Networker

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Lori-Kunkel-for-web.jpgAs someone who runs a business providing bookkeeping services, networking is something I’ve always tried to prioritize, as it doesn’t necessarily come naturally to me.  It’s not that I don’t like meeting new people and forming new connections.  But when those meetings happen in the highly contrived context of a networking event – I find myself unable to drum up small talk.

It seems to me that we should do away with this idea of networking altogether.  For one thing, it’s a little bit redundant as a concept.  Life is all about forming meaningful connections and building community.  This web of connections will be there for us when we’re looking for support, partnership, friends, clients, etc.  But while there are those naturally gregarious networkers out there, I think that many people, like me, find this idea of networking daunting.

Introverts, or anyone who might find themselves a bit shy at networking events, would be wise to watch Susan Cain’s TED talk on the “The Power of Introverts.”  Equally enlightening was her article “How to Learn to Love Networking.”  In that article she calls networking “a soulless, mechanistic word that encourages people to think of each other as instrumental cogs in a machine.”  Pretty extreme, but she has a point!

These days, I try to be an accidental networker.  It’s a small adjustment, but a crucial one.  At the networking events, as everyone around me spins about in a frenzy of business card distribution, I slow down.  At each introduction and in every conversation I try to imagine that we’re not here at a networking event, and rather I focus on having conversations that will be funny, enlightening, and deep.  As Susan Cain says, “we all want to connect at a deep level. The only question is, how do you find the magical portal to the deep stuff?”

The key is to be present, open and be curious.  If I find myself talking to someone in need of bookkeeping services, then the networking event has done its job.  But I remember to stay open.  The person in front of me doesn’t need to be a new client.  They might rather have something else to offer – like an amazing story or a great joke.  Who knows, they might even be another introvert like you and me – thankful to have found a pal.  

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Lori Kunkel

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Lori Kunkel

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This website is created by Supporting Strategies to provide general bookkeeping and accounting information only. Supporting Strategies does not provide tax, legal or accounting advice, and the information contained herein is not intended to do so. As such, the information provided should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional tax, legal, and accounting advisors, and you should consult with a tax, legal and accounting professional before engaging in any transaction.