Why I gave up networking events and walked away from the BBC

Walked away from BBC

Kathryn’s journal: 9th September 2011

I went to my first networking event today. Not sure whether it was really worth it. I met some nice people but I’ve only exchanged details with one person and she’s right at the beginning of her business so I don’t have high hopes for her getting in touch. I felt really nervous going today and now I feel completely and utterly shattered. I didn’t really enjoy it at all to be honest.

There’s a reason I didn’t enjoy that networking event.

And there’s a reason that I only went to a couple more events after that before calling it a day on this type of marketing.

It wasn’t just about being out of my comfort zone nor was it just about feeling shy (although both of these elements did come into play too which made it even worse).

But rather it was because the nature of this type of networking event (where lots of strangers turn up to connect and ‘mingle’) goes completely against the grain of who I am as a person.

When I turn up to a big networking event, I am working against my natural strengths.

Like a fish trying to swim upstream, it’s hard work, tiring and not particularly enjoyable. And consequently I am left exhausted and feeling less than confident about myself.

And that’s why I am a MASSIVE believer in working with your strengths rather than against them.

When you find what you are truly naturally brilliant at, amazing things can happen.

And that level of self awareness is important both within the particular service you sell but also within the day to day sideline tasks that go with running a business such as marketing your products and dealing with all the admin that goes hand-in-hand with setting up on your own (because that stuff will take up A LOT of your time to begin with).

Using your natural strengths means you’ll enjoy the work more, which means you’ll be more motivated, which means you’ll be more productive, which means you’ll get better results.

Makes sense, right?!

For me it’s always been important to enjoy what I do, and so I often take time out to ‘check in’ with myself to think about how certain projects or new pieces of work are making me feel.

And sometimes this means walking away from a great opportunity because it doesn’t ‘fit’ with who I am and what I am trying to achieve.

Like the time I walked away from an opportunity to speak on BBC radio about introversion.

I know lots of people out there would think I was crazy for giving up an opportunity to be featured on such a high profile platform in the early days of my business.

But the fact of the matter is that I’m not a talker, it’s just not my natural strength.

The idea of talking on live radio just made me feel sick to my stomach. I knew in my heart that I wouldn’t do a great job plus they only asked me a few hours before the programme was going live so I didn’t even have any time to prepare.

This was not just a case of being a bit out of my comfort zone. This was a case of going completely against the grain of how I work well. And so, I made the decision to politely turn it down. No BBC radio for me.

But do you know what? Only a few months later The Guardian, a high profile and long standing UK newspaper that I respect and love, found my website and asked me if I’d like to write an article for them on introversion.

And without a moment of hesitation, I said YES!

Writing is more my thing – it felt right and it felt good, actually it felt amazing! AND they gave me two weeks to come up with the goods, which meant I had time to research, reflect and edit…Oh yes, much more my style.

So, you see working with your strengths is the way to go.

Don’t feel that you have to say ‘yes’ to everything just because it comes your way.

Instead, listen to your heart, do what feels right, and create a business where you really get to thrive.

Kathryn x

PS: Want more tips like this? In The Quiet Way you can learn how to build and run your business while honouring your introversion. Find our more here.

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8 thoughts on “Why I gave up networking events and walked away from the BBC

  1. Thank you so much for this post and in fact your whole website & business 🙂 I’m currently setting up my own business in web design/digital marketing. I’m an introvert and it’s really hard to push myself and my business. But I know I can’t work as an employee – it doesn’t suit me at all. I avoid networking because I find it stressful and exhausting. What other/better ways are there for introverts to market themselves?

    • Hi Helen,

      Thanks for your lovely comments. For me it’s all about online marketing. My website is my base and my aim is to get as many people on there as possible so they can learn about who I am and what I do. There are tons of ways that you can get people to your site… guest blogging, social media, webinars, hanging out on online communities, SEO… the list is endless. A lot of these are based on a form of networking but it’s all online so you can do it from the comfort of your home behind a computer screen which works SO much better for me 🙂

  2. Kathryn – You nailed it. Networking events have always drained me. I go because that’s what my mentors have always told me I should do. To ‘get out of my comfort zone’. My comfort zone never included things like speaking engagements or networking summits. I put on a brave face and acted as if I belonged there. It was exhausting. As you out it, working with your strengths is the way to go. Very well said. I hope those who need to hear this find your post.

  3. Hi Kathryn, I really appreciated this post. It came at a good time for me. One week ago I fainted at a friends house and that was a big sign I was not listening to my inner voice. Setting up Sacred Introvert Retreat Tours has been what I like to call “Mr Toad’s Wild Ride”. I love it and I also have had some really bumpy times. In the past year many people have given me “advice” that didn’t resonate with me but I tried to take it but was resisting the whole time. After a particularly hard week of feeling overwhelmed my adrenals and equilibrium could no longer take it anymore and I went down, for real. It’s amazing what a health scare can do. I have had to reassess everything I am doing and reevaluate what success means to me. So I was very impressed when I read that you turned down the BBC interview. That takes conviction and I admire that. Funnily I am more of a “Talker” and less of a writer (social introvert who needs her down time alone!). I’m going to share this on the SI FB page. Thanks again, Lisa Avebury

    • Hi Lisa,
      Thanks for your comments. I’m sorry to hear that you had a health scare, it definitely sounds like your body was giving you a sign to be more gentle with yourself. It would be great if we could delete the word ‘should’ from the dictionary wouldn’t it! I’ve definitely had moments over the last few years when I’ve found myself feeling like I should be doing certain activities just because other people are or I’m advised to. I’ve realised however that I’m so much happier when I do things my own way. Here’s to a healthy and happy rest of 2015! 🙂

  4. Spot on with these insights, Kathryn!

    I actually find it funny that such a huge radio show would ask an introvert to speak…live on air…in front of millions…about being an introvert. 😉

    Good on you for knowing your strengths, listening to your intuition and landing such an awesome writing gig shortly after.

    I actually wrote a bit about networking for introverts in my book ‘The Quiet Copywriter’ (hope you don’t mind me mentioning it – I wrote it as a labour of love!). In business, we’re often expected to show up at huge networking events. Could anything be more terrifying?! Some tactics I’ve tried are finding smaller niche networking groups where you actually get to know a select number of people, rather than being confronted with hundreds in a huge hall. And if I’m really off my game one day, I promise myself I can leave after 20 minutes. Usually after that time I’ve either struck up a conversation with someone and am feeling comfortable, or commit to another 20 minutes, then another, then another, until the event is over and I go home for a nap! 🙂 Of course sometimes I escape after 20 minutes because it’s all too much…and there’s nothing wrong with that!

    • Hi Katherine, your book sounds great and I definitely agree that there are ways that you can network without attending huge terrifying events. For me personally getting together with individuals or small groups works much better (though I tend only to do this with people I’ve previously connected with online). Thanks for your comments 🙂

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