I’ve always been a “play by the rules” kind of person. I don’t cheat during board games or cut in line at the movie theater and I even throw away milk on its expiration date. But when it comes to attending networking events, I have to admit, I tend to “bend” the rules a little. We all know the purpose of these events is to meet new people and expand our network, not spend time with friends and colleagues we already know. However, I have always preferred to stay in my comfort zone by bringing my designated “buffer” who would never leave my side. That is, until now.
I’ve recently moved to Houston, where I have limited professional contacts, and no buffer. So, I am now tasked with attending Houston networking events alone. My first Houston event was the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), Houston Chapter’s monthly mixer. All day, I tried talking myself into skipping this event since I wouldn’t know anyone, but then I decided to “woman-up.” I grabbed my business cards, walked out the door and told myself it’s time to play by the rules.
When I arrived at the event, I had another urge to walk away, but I ignored this feeling and stretched my fingers in preparation to shake a lot of hands – and it’s a good thing I did. During the two-hour event, I met and conversed with seven new people, collected three business cards, learned about volunteer opportunities with the organization and won a gift card to a local restaurant through a business card drawing.
Breaking the ice by attending a networking event alone is one of the best things I have done for myself to get out of my comfort zone. I now have the confidence and motivation to continue attending events by myself. Have you attended a networking event solo lately? Try it out; you may find you make even more connections.