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.