office-336368_1280-300x2013 Reasons You Should Always Network

Okay, I admit it, I do not love going to a party or event where I do not know anyone and I therefore have to attempt to make new friends. Yes, as a Motivational Keynote Speaker, I speak about networking, I encourage people to network, and I really do believe that if you build your network you will change your life. All of that is true, but it still does not mean I love to do it.

Every Thanksgiving my husband and I go away, just the two of us. You see, it is our wedding anniversary, so we steal this holiday just for ourselves. We head to our beach place in Charleston, South Carolina and ride bikes, play golf, walk the beach and just have fun and relax. For us, this has become a tradition, and one that we look forward to each and every year. We refer to it as the perfect weekend, and this perfect weekend always ends with a Member’s Party at our Country Club.

This black tie event, put on by the club, is quite the party. Every member of the club is invited, and the entire event is courteous of our club. It is so much fun, all the women and men are dressed to the nine’s, and the food and cocktails are amazing and endless! The best part however is the band, always the perfect blend of shag, rock-n-roll and pop music. We eat, drink and dance all night long.

Now even though we belong to this club, and even though we spend about ten long weekends a year at our beach place, my husband and I do not really know anyone at the club. Other than our Thanksgiving trip, we are usually there with friends or family, and the entertaining prevents us from socializing or picking up a golf game with other club members.

For that reason, the first thirty minutes of this Member Party is always a bit awkward. As soon as the doors open and the crowd gathers, the members grab a cocktail and start to socialize; all the members, that is, but us. Naturally, because most of these people know each other they start to engage and talk immediately, leaving my husband and I to stand talking, awkwardly, to just one another. If it were up to me, sorry to say, this awkward conversation would last most of the night, but not for Rob (my husband), as he is quick to push us out of our comfort zone.

Every year, before we can get the first cocktail down, Rob is out there introducing us to other members, asking questions, and as I like to call it “making new friends.” He is so good at it, even when we see a member we recognize from prior years, he will simply say hello, make polite conversation, then pull me along to  meet new people.

This year, Rob struck gold. Within five minutes of being at this event, he introduced us to a couple of members who turned out to be a blast. They asked us to sit with them, which we did, and then four of their friends filled out the table. The entire group was fun, interesting and best of all loved to dance. We had such a good time, we stayed until the end, and closed the place down!

As we headed to the car, I told my husband “thank you”! The entire evening was so much fun, and it never would have happened if not for him. See, I was focused on not bothering people, convincing myself they all knew each other and did not want to make new friends. It was Rob who pushed us out of our comfort zone, and Rob who ensured we reaped the benefits of networking.

What We Gained:

  1. More Fun – Believe me I love spending time with my husband, but at a party you want to be with people. This was so much more fun, laughing, telling stories, and just enjoying a great night with more people.
  2. Connections – Turns out everyone we met was a great connection. One man does a lot of work in the financial services events world, which is a terrific connection for me. My husband met two guys who love to fly fish, which is his passion. And every couple there are regular shag and salsa dancers, so they gave us great tips on where to dance in the area.
  3. Friends  – We are reaching a point where we want to spend more time at our beach place, and it is great to now have friends that we can play golf with, have dinner with, and oh yes, go dancing with.

This all taught me a powerful lesson about why, even when I do not feel like it, I need to push out of my comfort zone. I know it makes me a more effective Motivational Keynote Speaker, Consultant, and Coach, not to mention the benefits listed above. Here are three easy steps to help you push out of your comfort zone, too.

How To Push Out Of Your Comfort Zone:

  1. Find A Reason – Find a reason to go up and talk to people, something to say. I had mentioned to my husband that I recognized that couple from previous years, and they were great dancers. He took that and ran with it. Starting off with a comment, especially a compliment. Is an easy way to get the conversation flowing.
  2. Ask Questions – From there just ask questions – do you live down here full-time? How long have you been members? Have you been to this event before? Open-ended questions get people talking, and give you an opportunity to find common ground. We quickly learned one gentlemen was a fly fisherman, and his wife is an author, just as I am. 
  3. Just Do It  – The hardest part is getting started, so don’t think about it. Just take a deep breath and do it.

Yes, it was the perfect Thanksgiving, and anniversary weekend. I was thankful for a lot of things: the time away, the gorgeous weather, and a husband with the guts to push out of his comfort zone.

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Motivational Keynote Speaker & Business Growth Expert, Meridith Elliott Powell works with clients to help them instill ownership at every level to ensure profits at every turn. Meridith is the author of several books, including her latest, Winning In The Trust & Value Economy: a professional’s guide to business and sales success. When not keynoting and leading workshops, she looks for inspiration cycling, golfing or hiking her favorite trail.  https://meridithelliottpowell.com