I had a powerful ah-ha moment last week. I discovered that successful people aren’t necessarily the ones who work the hardest or are the best in their fields. Yes, those things help, but they’re not enough. Don’t you know hard-working people who are really good at what they do, but are just barely making ends meet? Successful people are the ones who are willing to persist, even when they’re uncomfortable. Here’s what I experienced.
I was at a networking event with a group of people I didn’t know. They knew each other pretty well, though, or so it seemed, because everybody was in small groups chatting away. I tried my best to work the room, but two different conversations I’d struck up with people were interrupted mid-sentence by another person breaking in. No “excuse me,” just a turning away to speak with someone they knew while I stood there awkwardly. Other times I’d spot an individual I wanted to approach but before I could make my way through the narrow, crowded space, someone had beaten me to them. As my confidence plummeted, I became very uncomfortable and seriously contemplated leaving. I stood there for a few minutes feeling the knot in my stomach and the tightness in my shoulders, scanning the room for someone to talk to. Eventually I found someone to connect with, who led me to another, and then to another. Ultimately I met at least six people I followed up with later, exceeding my expectations for the event.
The purpose of networking is to build relationships that can be mutually beneficial. If I had left when my discomfort mounted, I would never have met the people I did. No one would be blessed by my leaving. Because I was willing to endure my discomfort, I had the opportunity to give and receive. One woman I spoke with had three points of connection with me, and I’m sure we’ll see each other again soon. Receiving something you’ve never had before will likely mean being in unfamiliar situations. Be willing to be uncomfortable and see what you receive!