Please bear with me today as I’m going to have a soapbox moment…ie: a rant.
Having been to and also organised many networking events over the past 18 plus years sadly some things about people seem to never change.
Recently I was involved in three events plus I attended another that was organised by another business group and as I am comfortable with about any occasion and eventuality it is still surprising to me how many people still don’t know how to be “inclusive” when being with strangers.
(Remember,strangers are just friends you don’t know yet.)
Networking events are not the time or the place to be exclusive, no matter how special your business or job may be.
Last week I watched a professional speaker who outshone many other speakers I’ve dealt with in the past.
Some speakers who are new to the speaking world can act very precious and be exhausting to deal with. Not only was this very experienced guest speaker not demanding, she was humble and totally inclusive of everyone who wanted to speak with her (and there were plenty).
A constant smile never left her face. Despite of the fact that some people didn’t realise they were taking WAY too much of her time, she never said a word to them or let them know that they were being over indulgent. She was totally inclusive when talking to people at tables, something I don’t see very often.
To sit at a table or be in a group where you don’t know anyone is hard.
To sit at a table where the other people are talking amongst themselves and not including you is even harder.
And maybe because I have watched so many groups, I feel that some people are just plain rude not to notice and include the others in their conversations. You may be sitting next to someone you haven’t seen for a while and are keen to have a catch up, however at a table with other people it is not the occasion to do the catch up. Do it over coffee later.
What is it with some people??
Have we become so insular and exclusive we don’t want to know any more people?
Is it that you only want to know people who are good for your business but not help other businesses?
Why even bother attending a networking event if that’s the case??
We know that we make snap decisions about someone with the first 2-5 seconds of meeting them.
But just imagine that your assumption about this new person is WRONG!
I witnessed this very thing the other week. A large table of ladies did not engage at all with a young woman sitting with them.
They were older (and probably thought they were wiser) and had basically given this young woman the cold shoulder.
I happen to know this young woman. She an amazing business story, an amazing personal story and someone who I am sure we will all be reading about in the future. But this table didn’t know that or even try to get to know her – how sad.
That was until the young woman made an observation to the guest speaker when the guest speaker had asked if anyone had any questions. The statement startled the table of older (& supposedly wiser) women. It also floored the room.
It was a beautiful moment when the table suddenly realised that this young woman was much wiser and experienced beyond her youthful face. The table burst into animated discussions all round with the table asking her questions and relating their similar experiences to her.
At the end of the event they all loved each other and their experience of the event had been enhanced because of the sharing of experiences amongst all of them.
“This not rocket science people!” (I’m saying tongue planted in cheek)
This experienced networker is asking and even pleading with you – when you attend your next networking event, step outside your “exclusive” bubble and become more aware of those around you.
Become inclusive not exclusive because not only will it be better for your business and your career prospects, it will make you a better person too!
I’ve had the pleasure of making the most amazing friends over the years because I’ve stayed open minded about people.
And as we get older there can be the tendency to be super selective as to who we allow into our circles, but you know what?
If you don’t allow anyone new in, you’ll never get to expand your own horizons and how boring would THAT be?
So tell me, who are you when you attend networking functions? Inclusive or Exclusive?
PS: Had the pleasure of attending a large community organisations meeting last night and this topic came up in conversations after the meeting. Being inclusive was a big factor of this volunteering organisation’s success.
Something we should acknowledge when we see people doing the right thing.