It was at a networking event early in my career when I ventured across the room to greet someone I didn’t know. “I’m Joe,” they said and stretched out their arm, waiting for me to introduce myself. I completely blanked. It was probably only seconds, but it felt like a full minute ticked by, the guy staring uncomfortably into my face, before I finally remembered my name.
Thinking about it now, I don’t think anything ever came from that connection — though I did live to make another one.
For me, networking has never been natural — I’d be much more comfortable hanging back and waiting for others to introduce themselves. But, as we all know, standing back at an event or conference means you’re letting countless business opportunities pass you by. It’s not an option. So I learned to embrace being uncomfortable.
Whatever your job, especially as you’re starting out, there will be areas outside your comfort zone; maybe it’s leading a meeting, visiting a client’s office, making a cold call or presenting to senior management. There’s nothing wrong with feeling uncomfortable. In fact, I recommend it — it means you’re putting yourself out there. Maybe the outcome won’t always be what you were aiming for, but, like me, you’ll live to try again. And after a while you’ll eventually get “good” at it.
Take it from me: I’ve certainly never forgotten my name again.
— Fred Ode