NetworkingAs I write this post, I’m on a flight to Arizona for a training program through the National Speakers Association.

I don’t want to go.

Oh, I know that I’ll meet great people there. I’m sure I’ll learn a lot. I may even pick up a resource or two that might help my business take off. I’m just not in the mood to be away from my family and my home right now.

Has this ever happened to you on the way to a networking event (whether it’s one that might take you away from your home and office for several days or even just for a couple of hours)? We don’t always have the option simply to skip it. Too often we’ve already sunk time, effort, or money into going – or the boss simply didn’t give us much choice. How do we show up ready to connect when we don’t really want to be there?

Here are a few ideas that may help all of us when we run into networking resistance.

  1. Remember , this is a rare opportunity. Most of us tend to stay in our own back yard. Extending our reach, whether it’s across town or across the country, will put us in touch with new people, new ideas, new opportunities.
  2. Have a goal. What are you hoping to achieve? Is it getting training that you can’t receive anywhere else? Could you develop an ongoing professional connection with the instructor? Is it meeting particular people that will make your life easier in the long run? How many people would you like to meet? What will make this time away into a success?
  3. Have a plan. How are you going to achieve that goal you chosen? Knowing where you are going is only half of the battle. You also have to have some idea of how you are going to get there. If your goal is to learn something, that’s usually pretty structured, but how are you going to make use of what you learn? If you are trying to meet new people, how are you planning to capture their contact information and follow up?
  4. Take care of yourself. Travel is hard on the system and often takes us out of our normal routine of exercise and healthy eating. This is something I have to remind myself of almost every time I sit down to a meal on the road, otherwise I tend to fill up on french fries instead of broccoli. Even when it’s a local event, though, do you really need to eat two desserts?
  5. Have some fun. Enjoy yourself a little — especially if you’ve already completed your goals. Chat with your friends. If you are away from home, join the group that’s going out to the ball game. Networking doesn’t have to be drudgery.

I miss my family already, but I know I’ll see them again in just a few days. My daughters will greet me at the door with hugs and kisses. I’ll get to hear about all their adventures while I was gone.  While I’ll be sad to have missed being there in person, the joy of our being together will quickly wash that away. To earn those moments, though, I need to make sure I’m doing what it takes to make this time have value in the long run.

What do you do when you’d rather not go? I’d love to hear your comments.