I read somewhere about territorial behavior among felines. As I recall, it basically said in cats, whoever is in the spot first, owns the spot. I can see this in my cats. When Luke is lying in the window seat, Ray has to almost ask permission before he’s allowed up in the same area. If he doesn’t behave, then I’ll hear Luke grouching about the whole thing.
So, what does this have to do with networking?
Have you ever just barely made it to a networking event on time? Almost everyone is there. Most of them are already seated. You have to walk into a room of three hundred strangers. It’s kind of a nervous-making feeling, isn’t it? For some reason, we perceive that everyone is looking at us as we walk in and it’s up to us to prove ourselves worthy.
Now switch the situation. Imagine you are one of the first ones there. You walk in, drop your bag at a seat, and you are ready to network. You have time to hang your jacket, get the lay of the room, and maybe even nibble from the buffet table before everyone else starts arriving. Now they are the ones who are walking into the room full of strangers, while you get to be the one who owns the room.
A much better feeling, right?
So, if you often feel a little uncomfortable walking into a networking event, make it your personal goal to show up just fifteen minutes early. You’ll be surprised at how much more in control you feel and that can only lead to better networking.