4 Steps to Rescue Your Networking Attitude

“What matters is to live in the present, live now, for every moment is now. It is your thoughts and acts of the moment that create your future. The outline of your future path already exists, for you created its pattern by your past.”
~ Sai Baba

Have you ever had one of those mornings? You know the ones. You’re feeling off-kilter. Nothing seems to be going right and you can’t even put a finger on what’s wrong. You feel irritable and snappish. By 10am you are ready to declare a reset on the whole day and crawl back into bed.

That was how I was feeling this morning.

It wasn’t that anything was particularly wrong. Little, insignificant things kept cropping up that kept me off balance. I was getting cranky and when sweet little Abby asked me for the fourth time what the plan was for the day (instead of finishing her breakfast), I almost started the dad-yell process.

Then I saw her innocent face looking up at me and I reminded myself that she (probably) wasn’t doing this to aggravate me. She genuinely wanted to know. I took a deep breath or three, answered her question, and she returned to her meal. No yelling necessary.

In that moment, I realized that I had forgotten the purpose of all my actions that morning. It wasn’t just about getting them dressed and fed so I could get them to school on time. That breakfast, the lunches I made, even the drive to school — that was how I showed them I loved them. Once I remembered that, the morning got a lot easier.

Have you ever had one of those networking events? You know the ones. You chat with those around you, but never seem to get any traction. Your email from the office is a distraction and you may have had one too many people force their business card into your hands. By the time you walk out, you feel like the last two hours have been a complete waste of time and you are ready to ditch networking entirely so you can get real work done.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do after the event is over, but if you, like me this morning, can recognize you are going down that non-productive path, you still have a chance to turn your day around. Try this:

  • Take a beat. Step back. Breathe. Count to ten. Do whatever you need to do to break the pattern of you reacting to everything going on around you.
  • Review your plan. The biggest mistake most people make is forgetting to set a goal before they walk in. If you don’t know what you are trying to achieve — if you don’t know where the finish line is — you are doomed to failure before you start.
  • Adjust your plan. Did you bite off more than you can chew? When you don’t see a way to succeed, you probably won’t. Take stock of the time you have left and adjust your goals accordingly.
  • Align your actions to your goals. If you wanted to meet three new people, then chatting with current acquaintances isn’t likely to take you there. Make sure you are using your networking time productively. Once you’ve accomplished your goal, then you can spend your time on pure socializing.

Just because you made a misstep or two in your networking event (or your morning) doesn’t mean you can’t get back on the productive path. Take a deep breath, remind yourself of why you are there, and set your sights on success.

Photo by flickr user Brian under Creative Commons License.

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Greg Peters, president and founder of The Reluctant Networker, LLC, is a business networking specialist. He works with trade associations on both the local and national level to create a culture of better connections and greater opportunity. Find out more at www.TheReluctantNetworker.com or gpeters@thereluctantnetworker.com.

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