I’m still not comfortable with networking events. It’s not getting any easier yet. Granted this is only my 4th one, I still walk in with clammy hands and a pounding heart.
The fact I react this way is mind boggling. In no way am I a shy person. I love people. I love talking to people, but something about these events put me in a state of unease. I think I feel pressured to push myself onto others. I am much calmer when I speak with others naturally versus out of obligation. But, I still went. I almost skipped out, but I went. Oh, how I was so close to driving right back out of the parking lot. I thought I had such a good reason too. I almost convinced myself in having my reason to say, “Thanks, but no thanks” justified. Instead, it ended with me turning that phrase around.
What was my reason for almost bailing?
As I parked, I noticed someone getting out of their vehicle. It was a person I thought I knew and preferred not to be around for reasons unimportant to discuss. All I know is when I saw this person; my mind immediately made the justification that I “couldn’t” go inside. I “couldn’t” possibly put myself in a situation that would upset me. That was enough reason for me to gear into reverse and leave. But, instead of bolting for the exit, I headed to a different parking spot, one that would give me a clearer view of this person’s face. I had to make sure it was who I thought it was first. But, I didn’t end up getting that confirmation. They ended up walking by with their head turned the other way.
“Darn it!” I said out loud to myself. I sat there in my car for another minute or two before choosing to be courageous rather than a coward. And so there I went. I grabbed my bag and headed inside.
I got to the registration table where name tags of the people registered were displayed. After noticing mine wasn’t there, I explained to the woman at the table that I didn’t see a place to register online. She asked me for my name and If I was a member. I soon realized I had to pay a $10.00 fee for being a non-member. Fighting against my nerves, I quickly wrote a check while eyeballing the people mingling inside with one another.
Where is that person I think I saw outside? If it’s them, I will just leave. I’m okay with losing ten bucks. These are the thoughts prancing in my head as I handed her the check.
I walk inside not recognizing a single person at first, but everyone else clearly knew each other. I headed to a table in the back and pretended to be busy by playing on my phone. I do spot the person I thought I knew and realized it was not that person. Relieved some, I thanked God. I thanked Him for giving me the courage to go inside. I thanked Him for redirecting me from the exit to another parking spot. I knew it was Him that prompted me not to run, and I just didn’t want to listen.
I soon spotted one person in the crowd I did end up knowing. He came over to talk to me, and I explained how nervous and uncomfortable I was there. He offered some words of encouragement and stood by me the rest of the event. And then came the thirty-second commercials. The dreaded commercials.
At these events, each of us has to give what is called a thirty-second commercial. That’s where we have to tell everyone in the room who we are and give a pitch on our products or services. They do this for all these types of events. I knew it was coming. The tension became thicker as they went around the room and one by one each of us had to speak. I could barely pay attention to what anyone was saying because I was so focused on my throbbing heart. I kept praying in my head for calmness.
I am going to screw this up. I am going to stutter over my words. How am I going to do this? When the circle of people finally landed on me, it was my turn to speak. I took a deep breath. I began by saying,
“ Wow! You are all so good at this. I can barely hear my voice over my nerves. I am going to go slow, so I don’t sound robotic.”
They laughed with me. It was unbelievable how that calmed me down.
After I had finished speaking, the man next to me spoke. I remembered thinking to myself how good he was at it. He didn’t stumble. He didn’t crack. He spoke with such comfort. I want to be comfortable like that. I need to get to a place where I can speak like that. I congratulated him on how well he did. He explained how after doing it numerous times, it became easier for him. That was my goal for coming to these, to practice and get better.
Afterward, a few people ended up coming up to me to introduce themselves and tell me that I did a good job. Their words were encouraging, and I appreciated their support.
I left the event feeling proud. I was proud I took the courage God gave me and went inside. I was proud that I didn’t let my fear of this event justify a reason that didn’t even exist end up being a reason to stop me from attending. That’s how sneaky and deceitful fear can be. It may be a small thing to be proud of, but if we aren’t careful, we will miss the big acts God does in those little things. Like fueling us with the courage when we need it. And that He certainly did.
Even though I am still uncomfortable at these events, it is imperative for purposes for my blog to go. It is vital that I practice. So, I smiled and signed up for two more events with the thoughts,
“No thanks, but thanks.” running through my head.
It’s amazing what the outcome becomes when you go from giving God a positive thought only to not act on it to giving God a negative thought and acting on it. Big difference.