I talk about the benefits of networking and the good that can come from meeting new people on a regular basis. What I haven’t talked about is the one drawback from expanding your circle – a temporary loss of confidence.
This week, a good friend of mine told me he was depressed. The week started out great for him, he landed a new client by being proactive. He left his comfort zone and shook things up…and it worked.
In the middle of the week, he went to meet someone who was recommended by a group of friends. If this was last year, he would have never made contact and set up the appointment. He was not a networker, at all. He had a good meeting with this person, a very respected elder in the industry. This “mentor” gave my friend some advice. The advice shook him up a little bit.
The advice was good and in two months, he will probably be happy that the mentor went out of his way to talk to him. The mentor was very genial and the advice was given with the best of intentions. And what’s crazy is that the mentor invited my friend to work on a project with him. I would be bouncing around like a five year old at a childrens’ museum if it happened to me. But when you spend so much time by yourself in your own small biz, your view of the world is not as big as it could be. You think you are doing things the right way and you also think that everyone is going to be super impressed because you have lasted longer than a decade. It hurts your pride to hear someone senior (and more successful) give advice that you know you should consider and/or apply immediately. They address the bad habits you have swept under the rug or the stuff you want to do but keep putting off. We all have these. So don’t take it personally… take it professionally.
When you leave your comfort zone and start meeting people who have businesses more successful than yours, or people who have more degrees than you, or people who know more successful people than you…you are doing the right thing. Trust me, you are forming a better network. And you will feel the sting of jealousy and uncertainty. But you will also develop thicker skin, as the ones who take an interest in you give you constructive criticism that you will begin to appreciate immediately. And at the end of the day, you will only grow and get better as a networker and in your current profession. So don’t let that temporary self-doubt and depression stop you from shaking more hands and kissing more babies.
That is why we network, because we want to improve. Like when you renovate your home, sometimes you rip the walls out. But in the end, a new improved shell awaits.