You want to know what really scares me lately? Networking. Meeting and talking to strangers. Stranger danger, you know. When I get scared, I get what I call “nervous gym tummy”. That’s the way my stomach used to feel, full of bad butterflies, when I walked into gym class in elementary school and it was climb-the-rope day (I’d dangle there for the 2 minutes helplessly while other kids scooted up and down twice), or double-dutch day (seriously, I still don’t know how to jump into double dutch jump ropes), or, worst of all, dodgeball day (line up and get chosen….yikes). Networking gives me nervous gym tummy.
A dear friend of mine who is also a life coach (see www.blissfix,com, she’s tremendous) has counseled me in the past to run towards the roar – towards that which scares you. The reasoning? Lions in the savanna craftily poised for a hunt will station a male lion, and then the fierce lionesses will fan out some distance opposite him and and hide. As unsuspecting prey comes along (we’ll call them gazelles), the male lion will ROAR, and the gazelles instinctively run away from the perceived danger of the roar. But they run away from the roar, right into the net of hungry lionesses poised to gobble them up. Crafty, those big cats.
What happens if I run towards the roar (in this case, networking)? Well, I’m pretty sure no one will eat me (one of the benefits from networking via phone, vs. in-person chats, where the risk substantially increases). If someone told me, “Hey, you! There’s this thing, that if you do it, will increase your chances of getting to your goal by 4,000%” and then asked me if I wanted to do that thing, I’d say yes. After 1.5 quarters of business school, they have knocked just enough sense into me to know that improving your chances by 4,000% is a good thing. In this case, my goal is getting a fabulous summer internship. (in this context, fabulous means exciting and challenging, in marketing, with really sharp people and a great company culture, working on interesting things).
And, when you’re one gazelle in a herd of 314 gazelles (aka Darden Class of 2011) who all are smart, with impressive work experience and good credentials, how do you A) not get eaten and B) convince those already prowling the corporate jungle you’re a great internship candidate? They tell me it’s by networking. Eeek! Nervous gym tummy. But, everyone I’ve talked to so far has been open, receptive, gracious, encouraging and positive. And I’ve learned lots about brand management, talked to some fascinating people, and gotten some pretty fantastic advice. Maybe there’s something to this networking stuff…