Networking Pride and Prejudice

I love the A&E miniseries of “Pride & Prejudice“. There, I’ve said it and you may now proceed to call me a sissy-man.

Just remember I also have a fourth-degree black belt.

Joking aside, I do really enjoy watching this story and do so usually at least once per year. Great dialog. Great characters. Great story.

One of my favorite passages involves an exchange over the pianoforte between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett. She teases him about not making an effort to connect with those around him.

“I certainly have not the talent which some people possess,” said Darcy, “of conversing easily with those I have never seen before. I cannot catch their tone of conversation, or appear interested in their concerns, as I often see done.”
“My fingers,” said Elizabeth, “do not move over this instrument in the masterly manner which I see so many women’s do. They have not the same force or rapidity, and do not produce the same expression. But then I have always supposed it to be my own fault—because I would not take the trouble of practising. It is not that I do not believe my fingers as capable as any other woman’s of superior execution.”  

How many of us feel like Darcy when we show up at the networking event? At one time, I was a computer programmer with all the social skills that implies. Attending those events felt like I was at my first junior high school dance — awkward, embarrassed, painful. It’s amusing to think of people who think I’m a “natural networker”. The truth is it took me a lot of practice to become that way.

Any learnable skill — which networking is — takes time and practice to master. We don’t wake up one morning able to cook a gourmet meal, walk a tight rope, or drive a car. Why would we expect anything different when we are learning the techniques and tactics of developing our web of connections?

Give yourself permission to feel a little awkward. Be OK with discomfort. Just understand that this, too, shall pass and soon you, too, can be a “natural networker”.

Photo by Reinhold Schlager

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About Greg Peters

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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